It’s clear now that BPA is bad for our bodies.
Researchers are discovering more and more about the chemical’s effect on our health. Turtles have been an important part of determining how BPA interrupts and damages our hormones.
What is BPA?
Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a chemical found in a wide variety of plastics, cash-register receipt papers, canned food liners, and drink cups.
There has been a relatively recent push against the chemical’s use, as research has revealed BPA acts as a hormone disruptor.
There are a wealth of studies linking problems with reproduction, obesity, brain damage and cancer to BPA.
What do turtles tell us about BPA?
Turtles are an “indicator species” with respect to human health.
As scientists have investigated BPA and its effect on turtles, they have seen a considerable amount of evidence indicating that BPA is such a significant powerful hormone disruptor that it actually has the ability to “change the sex of developing turtles.”
The perceived shift in estrogen then causes changes in the turtle’s reproductive system, which is usually only affected by environmental temperature. Warmth creates female turtles; cool temperatures create males.
BPA, which turtle eggs perceive to be additional estrogen, can effectively disrupt that pattern.
Researcher Dawn Holliday, notes,”…When turtle eggs are exposed to environmental estrogens, their sex is no longer determined by the temperature, but rather by the chemical to which they’re exposed.”
What happens to turtles when exposed to BPA?
Essentially, the turtles were “feminized.” BPA had overridden the natural process for gender selection, and left these turtles unable to reproduce.
The authors of the study warn, “The fact that exposure to BPA can override the temperature-dependent sex determination pattern in a turtle species—cool dudes and hot babes—by feminizing embryos that are incubating at male-producing temperatures should be a wake-up call to all of us. If BPA can do this to developing reptiles, what might it be doing to other species, including humans?”