To Paint or Procreate – That is the Question

Julie Silas | February 08, 2010 | Newsletter

Bisphenol A (BPA) is the notorious chemical that water bottle manufacturers like Nalgene and SIGG have had to phase out because it leaches into liquids. The science is strong that BPA can affect the hormone and reproductive system. Yet, time and again when regulators or legislators try to propose legislation or establish regulations to limit the use of BPA in some products, the cry from industry is that there is little to no scientific evidence that BPA is harming humans. (Most of the scientific evidence comes from animal studies.) The one area in the scientific literature that does show the negative human effects of BPA on the reproductive system is when workers are exposed regularly to epoxy-based resin spray paint -- the very types of products that HBN has recently evaluated for our new product category: High Performance Coatings.

Not many people realize that BPA is fundamental to epoxy-based resins used for high performance coatings and building adhesives (including carpet and flooring). In most cases, epoxy paints and adhesives are made from resins made from BPA. In the limited studies of workers' regular exposure to epoxy spray paints, the epoxy resin is getting in the their bodies (through inhalation? skin contact?) and breaking down in their bodies to BPA. The reproductive systems of some of those men are showing that BPA is disrupting the secretion of sex hormones. (Click here for more of the science on BPA)

In a recent study funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and implemented by researchers from Kaiser Permanente, workers in a BPA manufacturing facility in China were compared to workers in a Chinese facility that did not use BPA. The study found that, "the workers in the BPA facilities had quadruple the risk of erectile dysfunction, and seven times more risk of ejaculation difficulty."

Perhaps people agree with the chemical industry -- BPA is safe until proven, without a shadow of a doubt, that it is causing human harm. However, many of us don't need absolute positive proof to avoid the chemical -- if it can potentially affect our bodies and the bodies of our children, why would we want it on our walls, under our feet, or in our food? Perhaps people will use Pharos to look at the many products available on the market and signal to the building industry the desire to purchase products that won't affect our ability to procreate.

For more background on BPA in high performance coatings, read our fact sheet, "Bisphenol A in Building Materials: High Performance Paint Coatings".