Ottawa: Bisphenol-A, or BPA, a chemical widely-used in plastic food containers and packaging, is mostly eliminated through the urine and does not accumulate in the body, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.
After reviewing recent studies on the impact of the chemical on human health, a panel of 30 experts from Canada, the United States and Europe meeting in Ottawa determined that the amounts of BPA measured in urine were equivalent to ingested amounts of the chemical.
Levels of the chemical were "very low, indicating that BPA is not accumulated in the body and is rapidly eliminated through urine," the WHO said.
Even so, the panel concluded, "recent experimental and epidemiological studies found associations between low BPA exposure levels and some adverse health outcomes."
The WHO statement added: "Until these associations can be confirmed, initiation of public health measures would be premature."
The WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations affirmed the widely-held belief that primary exposure to BPA is through the consumption of foods.
The chemical migrates from packaging such as baby bottles and coated food cans into the food.
Non-dietary exposure, which can occur from house dust, soil or toys, dental treatments and cash register receipts, for example, was found to be of "minor relevance," said the panel.
Canada in October 2008 was the first to ban use of the chemical in baby bottles, after tests showed the petroleum product can affect neural development and behavior in laboratory animals exposed to BPA in the womb or very early in life.
More than 130 studies over the past decade have linked even low levels of BPA to serious health problems, including breast cancer, obesity and early onset of puberty.
But the health impact of the chemical on humans has been disputed. It is still widely used in plastic water jugs, soft drink cans, hockey helmets, mobile phone housings, computers, car bumpers and other consumer products.