by Marion Nestle
Nov 15 2009

Bisphenol A: And now, erectile disfunction!

The newspapers and the Internet are full of reports that men exposed to bisphenol A (BPA) have higher levels of erectile disfunction.  Before going into a panic, take a look at the study details.   This one was a survey of factory workers in China exposed to exceptionally high levels of this endocrine-disrupting chemical.

What does the study mean for men exposed to much lower levels?  We don’t have a clue.  But we’ve heard plenty of unsettling things about BPA (see previous posts), including accounts by Jill Richardson and others of the extraordinary efforts of industry lobbyists to prevent officials from banning BPA. This new research suggests that a ban is a pretty good idea, even if most people are not harmed by small amounts.


  • BPA is not essential in the human diet.
  • It is an unnecessary contaminant.
  • Small amounts of harmful chemicals can accumulate in the body.
  • We have no idea what the threshold for harm might be.
  • Removing it from the food and water supply is not all that difficult.

In sum, everyone except makers of BPA plastics can do just fine without it.  I’m stuck; I can’t think of a single reason not to ban it.

Update, November 20: According to reports, NY Senator Charles Schumer has introduced a bill to ban BPA.  The headline of this account says “tabled.”  I think it means “introduced”?