Published: Mon, September 17, 2018
Medical | By Johnnie Horton

Researchers See New Plastics Causing Reproductive Woes of Old Plastics

Researchers See New Plastics Causing Reproductive Woes of Old Plastics

Bisphenol A (BPA) used in toys, medical devices, packaging of products and was considered a very "poisonous". This has to be read in conjunction with the fact that over the past decade, concerns about the health effects of BPA have forced food and beverage companies to largely abandon the use of the common plastic in many household items.

But 20 years ago researchers made the accidental discovery the plastics ingredient had inadvertently leached out of plastic cages used to house female mice in the lab, causing a sudden increase in chromosomally abnormal eggs in the animals. The Washington Legislature has also limited its use.

Hunt said more research is needed to determine what BPA replacements - and other common chemical compounds that may have similar effects - may be unsafe, and in what levels. They counted the number of "MLH1 foci" in the DNA of sperm and eggs - these are alterations of that indicate abnormalities in the chromosomes. The researchers found similar results with alternative chemicals BPF, BPAF and diphenyl sulfone. "These findings add to increasing evidence of the natural risks posed by this class of chemicals", they enact.

Third- and fourth-generation offspring no longer had the effects but, of course, had the second-generation mice been exposed to the chemicals as well, it might be more hard to wean out the problems. Some chemicals that cause problems for them don't affect us as all'. "Both sexes had considerations getting DNA to recombine precisely", the crew reports, "leading to a low cost in viable sperm and an develop in unprecedented eggs". These genetic changes that were introduced into the mice seemed to be passed on to future generations causing fertility problems in them as well.

The researcher notes that the initial inadvertent exposure of their animals was remarkably similar to what might happen in people using plastics in that the exposure was accidental and highly variable.

"It's now becoming nearly impossible to run experiments without contamination", Hunt said.

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The study wasn't exactly intentional. "So we are like the canary in the coal mine", she said.

But a new study published in the journal Current Biology bolsters a long-standing suspicion: the chemicals that replace BPA are potentially as disruptive as BPA itself.

The researchers showed that, if it were possible to eliminate bisphenol contaminants completely, the effects would still persist for about three generations.

The most likely way BPA enters your body is via your food: the compound may "leech" from damaged plastic and into what you eat and drink. The chemical has been used since the 1960's according to the US Food and Drugs Administration (US FDA).

But Hunt said the FDA studies do not match up with studies done by independent researchers. Subsequent studies showed that BPA does indeed have a serious effect on the developing brain, heart, lung, prostate, mammary gland, sperm and eggs. Compared with unexposed females, those exposed to BPA or its alternatives produced more protein markers of genetic damage during meiosis.

Hunt's WSU colleagues in the research are Tegan Horan, a research intern and the paper's first author, as well as scientific assistants Hannah Pulcastro and Crystal Lawson, and former postdoctoral fellows Mary Gieske and Caroline Sartain.

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