Bisphenol A (BPA): The building block in the manufacture of polycarbonate
One of the key building blocks of polycarbonate manufacture is a chemical called bisphenol A (BPA). Covestro is committed to safety and is convinced that polycarbonate produced from BPA is safe for its intended areas of application.
Covestro works actively within the framework of regulatory processes, supporting regulations that are based on all available, reliable and relevant evidence.
Comprehensive information on BPA facts, risks and uses is available from the Polycarbonate / BPA Global Group and can be found here.
Questions and answers on Bisphenol A
What is Bisphenol A?
Bisphenol A, also commonly referred to as BPA, is an organic chemical which is an essential building block (or monomer) for high performance polymers, such as polycarbonate and epoxy resins.
Why is BPA being debated?
There has been ongoing debate and public concern about the alleged effects of low doses of BPA on human health and the environment, mainly in the context of alleged hormonal activity.
At the core of this debate is the fundamental scientific controversy about the existence of so called “low-dose-effects” or “non-monotonic-dose-responses (NMDR)” and the applicability of safety thresholds specifically for hormonal active substances. In this debate, the basic principle of toxicology, that all substances do have certain individual thresholds, where exposure below these thresholds would not lead to any negative effects for human health or the environment, is challenged.
How does Covestro use BPA?
At Covestro, BPA is used as a building block to produce polycarbonate plastic. Polycarbonate is often selected because of its unique combination of properties, such as clarity, durability, mechanical strength, impact resistance and heat resistance, which are essential for many applications. End-use applications of BPA-based polycarbonate are numerous and diverse ranging from automotive headlamps, housings for electrical equipment and numerous products in the medical sectors.
What is Covestro’s position on the safety of BPA with respect to consumers?
As a leader in the chemical industry’s Responsible Care® initiative, Covestro takes any concerns about the safety of its products very seriously. It closely follows scientific discussions on BPA, and stands by it as a chemical which has been rigorously studied and safely used for decades.
Assessments about BPA, made by regulatory authorities (e.g. from the US, Korea, Japan and Canada) and the extensive knowledge and expertise of the company’s own scientists, reinforces Covestro’s belief that there is currently no reasonable scientific basis for any health or safety concerns concerning the use of polycarbonate in intended consumer applications.
Are there alternatives to BPA in polycarbonates?
BPA-based polycarbonate offers a unique combination of technical properties like clarity, durability, light weight, mechanical strength and heat resistance which are critical for many of its applications. A polymer with a different building block than BPA would be another material entirely, with a different property profile and would not possess the same qualities.
BPA is a monomer, or in other words, a relatively small molecule, which serves as a building block, not as an additive, in the production of polycarbonate. During polymerization, which is when monomers connect chemically to produce a much larger chainlike or network molecule, called a polymer, BPA is firmly bound in the polymeric structure of the plastic polycarbonate leaving only traces of free BPA.
What is Covestro doing to ensure the safety of polycarbonate products?
Covestro is committed to being a leader in product stewardship and sustainable development practices. Its goal is to ensure that products are handled safely and with concern for the environment at every stage of the lifecycle.
It achieves this goal through years of expertise and know-how in producing and handling chemicals safely. It continues to develop and handle BPA-based polycarbonate under the core principles and commitments of the chemical industry’s Responsible Care® Global Charter. This Charter fosters a common vision to improve environmental, health, safety and security (EHS&S) performance of the chemical industry’s processes, operations and products. See here for more information.
In addition to the industry associations it belongs to, Covestro will continue to actively engage with the public, government agencies, customers and other important stakeholders on the topic of BPA to contribute to fair and open discussions.