What is bpa in medical terms

Replacement for bisphenol A.

Bisphenol A is considered to be harmful to health because of its hormone-like effects. Nevertheless, this plastic additive is still contained in many everyday objects. But that could soon change: US researchers have produced a harmless substitute for BPA - from paper mill waste. Because the wood component lignin contained in it provided the raw material for their BPA replacement. This has the same properties as the harmful model, but does not interfere with the hormonal balance. In addition, the new substance can be obtained inexpensively and in an environmentally friendly manner from wood waste.

The hormone-like chemical bisphenol A (BPA) is contained in many plastics - fatally. Because the additive has a similar effect to the female sex hormone estrogen and thus triggers numerous health problems: It is suspected of causing developmental disorders and neurological damage, sterility in men, obesity and cancer. Behavioral disorders can also be caused by the chemical. In Germany, baby bottles made of plastic are no longer allowed to contain bisphenol A. However, many other items and even food packaging still contain the chemical. "Around 3.5 million tons of BPA are produced annually worldwide," explains Kaleigh Reno of the University of Delaware. The material is found in unbreakable glasses, adhesives, receipt blocks, the inner wall of beverage cans and the interior lining of cars. Substitutes that perform the same function without the harmful hormonal effect have so far been in short supply.

BPA substitute made from lignin

Reno and his colleagues at the University of Delaware may now have found such a substitute - in paper mill waste. Wood chips are chemically treated in order to obtain the paper raw material cellulose from wood. The wood component lignin, which gives the woody plants their strength, remains as an undesirable by-product. As the researchers report, paper mills worldwide produce around 70 million tons of lignin as waste. So far, 98 percent of it has been burned.

But this wood pulp contains valuable raw materials for a BPA substitute, as Reno and his colleagues are now showing. They synthesized the so-called Bisguaiacol F (BGF) from the two lignin components vannillyl alcohol and guaiacol. Its structure and properties are similar to those of BPA, but in contrast to this, the new substance does not have a hormone-like effect. "We developed the BGF in such a way that it does not disrupt the hormonal balance, but still maintains the desired thermal and mechanical properties of BPA," explains Reno. In terms of toxicity, BGF also performed significantly better than BPA.

The big advantage: The BPA substitute is synthesized from an abundant waste material. Therefore, its production is also economical in terms of economy. In addition, the lignin comes from the renewable raw material wood. BGF can therefore be produced in a much more environmentally friendly way than BPA, which is synthesized from petroleum products, as the researchers emphasize. In further experiments, they now want to prove that the substance is actually a good substitute for bisphenol A in plastics production. "We expect positive results here within a year," says Reno. The BGF could be ready for the market in two to five years.


© Wissenschaft.de - Nadja Podbregar
March 16, 2014