Published: 29 Jul 2019 | Last Updated: 10 Aug 2023 10:31:57

A new study conducted in piglets has revealed that synthetic organic chemical bisphenol S (BPS) persists longer in the body and at much higher concentrations than bisphenol A (BPA).

The results suggest that, the current regulatory advice of replacing BPA with BPS could therefore lead to a very significant increase in human exposure to a hormonally active compound. This is worrying given that bisphenols are used in the manufacture of products such as plastic water bottles and cans.

The research was conducted by the Gestation and Endocrine Disrupters team of the Veterinary School of Toulouse and the Toxalim Research Unit in collaboration with the Universities of Montreal and The Royal Veterinary College (RVC). Undertaken with pigs due to their comparable gastrointestinal functions with humans, the study highlights the critical importance of exposure assessment when searching for alternatives to substances of concern.

Bisphenols are a family of synthetic organic chemicals used in the manufacture of polycarbonate-type plastics (e.g. water bottles) and epoxy resins (e.g. cans), as well as developers for most thermal papers (e.g. till receipts). While there are over 20 different types, BPA and BPS are the most commonly used.

Both BPA and BPS are regulated, however the use of bisphenol A is restricted in many countries based on extensive research. Therefore, manufacturers have started to gradually replace BPA with BPS. Critical research by the team shows the amount of ingested BPS that reaches the general bloodstream is about 100 times higher than that of BPA. Associated with slower elimination from the bloodstream (about 3.5 times lower), this leads to blood concentrations of BPS about 250 times higher than those of BPA, and much higher oral bioavailability of BPS (57%) compared to BPA (0.50%).

Pierre-Louis Toutain
Prof Pierre-Louis Toutain

Professor Pierre-Louis Toutain, co-author of the study and Honorary Professor at the RVC, said: “In 2017, BPA was classified as a substance of very high concern by the European Chemicals Agency's (ECHA) who reinforced the use of alternatives, mainly BPS. Although toxicological data are still insufficient to assess the associated hazard, these results clearly highlight the importance of exposure estimation in the human health risk analysis process related to the substitution of substances of concern. This is a really important process in helping to avoid regrettable substitution.”

Research reference

Véronique Gayrard, Marlène Z. Lacroix, Flore C. Grandin, Séverine H. Collet, Hanna Mila, Catherine Viguié, Clémence A. Gély, Blandine Rabozzi, Michèle Bouchard, Roger Léandri, Pierre-Louis Toutain, Nicole Picard-Hagen. 2019. Oral Systemic Bioavailability of Bisphenol A and Bisphenol S in Pigs. Environ Health Perspect 123 (7)

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About the RVC

  • The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is the UK's largest and longest established independent veterinary school and is a constituent College of the University of London.
  • The RVC is ranked as the world’s number one veterinary school in the QS World University Rankings 2019.
  • The RVC offers undergraduate, postgraduate and CPD programmes in veterinary medicine, veterinary nursing and biological sciences.
  • The RVC was the first veterinary school in the world to hold full accreditation from AVMA, EAEVE, RCVS and AVBC, and currently holds full accreditation from RCVS, AVBC and AVMA and conditional from EAEVE.
  • In 2017, the RVC received a Gold award from the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) – the highest rating a university can receive.
  • A research-led institution, the RVC maintained its position as the top veterinary institution in the Research Excellence Framework (2014), with 79% of its submission being rated as world-class or internationally excellent.
  • The RVC also provides animal owners and the veterinary profession with access to expert veterinary care and advice through its teaching hospitals: the Beaumont Sainsbury Animal Hospital, in central London, and the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals (Europe's largest small animal referral centre) and Equine Referral Hospital, both located at the Hertfordshire campus.

About the ENVT

  • The National Veterinary School of Toulouse (ENVT) is a public institution of higher education and research under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.
  • Created in 1828, it is the oldest “Grande école” of Toulouse.
  • It participates in the training of a quarter of French veterinarians, who are called upon to take up animal health and welfare issues but also the major public health challenges of today and tomorrow.
  • ENVT's research is based on eleven units in partnership with two public scientific and technological institutions: INRA and INSERM.
  • The quality of its teams and projects has given it a worldwide scientific reputation.

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