A bioactive chemical cousin of BPA turns up on money and in receipts
Two small investigations over the past 18 months turned up U.S. greenbacks tainted with bisphenol A, a hormone-mimicking pollutant. One of them also detected BPA on paper currencies from 20 other nations. Now the authors of that second report have turned up BPA’s cousin — bisphenol S — on many of those same banknotes in addition to 13 other types of papery products.
Owing to the near ubiquity of BPS in paper, human exposure is likely also “ubiquitous,” these chemists at the New York State Department of Health conclude.
BPS also behaves like an estrogen, according to data from an unrelated new study.
When a flurry of experiments demonstrated that BPA — an ingredient in plastic foodware and food-contact materials — could function like the body’s primary female sex hormone, manufacturers began hunting for less bioactive alternatives. After its search, the largest U.S. maker of thermal-receipt paper switched to BPS from the BPA it had relied upon for its thermal “ink.”
Structurally, the two bisphenols bear a strong similarity, which may explain why manufacturers have been able to functionally swap one for the other (at least in some applications). It now turns out that their biological activity is also oh-so similar.
Depending on which of two assays it used, a research arm of the European Commission now finds that BPS is either comparable to BPA in its estrogenicity or about a tenth as strong. For perspective, the body’s natural hormone is roughly 10,000-times as potent as BPA in activating estrogen-sensitive genes, explain the researchers in the August Toxicology in Vitro.