Bisphenol A (BPA)
Bisphenol A (BPA), pronounced [bis-FEEN-al A] What it is: An industrial chemical that is used to make some types of epoxy resins (which hold things together) as well as polycarbonate plastic, a hard, shatterproof plastic used in some food-storage containers
Where it is: The linings of metal food containers and drink cans and some aluminum water bottles; any food containers, baby bottles, or other plastics that are labeled #7; CD cases; eyeglasses; dental composites and sealants
The risks: "Since the 1930s we've known that BPA can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body," says Richard Denison, Ph.D., a senior scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund. Studies on lab animals have found that early exposures to BPA can predispose them to develop prostate and breast cancers later in life; it may also lower fertility by impairing normal development of eggs and sperm. Researchers at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reported in March that 2-year-old girls who had been exposed to higher prenatal levels of BPA displayed more aggression and hyperactivity, while other research has suggested links between BPA and increasing asthma rates and cardiovascular problems.