School meals may contain enough bisphenol A (BPA) to exceed lowdose toxicity thresholds, according to Stanford and Johns Hopkins researchers. Jennifer Hartle, et al., “Probabilistic modeling of school meals for potential bisphenol A (BPA) exposure,” Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, September 2015. Using federal school nutrition guidelines as well as information obtained from San Francisco Bay Area schools, the researchers modeled BPA exposure scenarios for elementary and middle schoolers consuming a mix of fresh and packaged foods at school lunch. The results evidently showed exposures ranging from 0.00049 μg/kg-BW/day for a middle-school student with a low-exposure breakfast, to 1.19 μg/kg-BW/day for an elementaryschool student eating a high-exposure lunch.
“During school site visits, I was shocked to see that virtually everything in school meals came from a can or plastic packaging,” Stanford Prevention Research Center Postdoctoral Fellow Jennifer Hartle is quoted as saying.
“Meat came frozen, pre-packaged, pre-cooked and pre-seasoned. Salads were pre-cut and pre-bagged. Corn, peaches and green beans came in cans. The only items not packaged in plastic were oranges, apples and bananas.”
In particular, the study claims that, even though the BPA contained in a single meal did not exceed the Environmental Protection Agency’s oral reference dose (RfD) of 50 μg/kg-BW/day, some of the doses were “at the same order of magnitude” as the low-dose toxicity threshold—2 μg/ kg-BW/day—indicated by animal studies. To this end, the authors warn of “the potential for school meals to expose children to chronic toxic levels of BPA.”
“Even a dose of one extra microgram per day could be a big deal. If this is an avoidable exposure, do we need to risk it? If we can easily cut it out, why wouldn’t we?,” opines Hartle. “The bottom line is more fresh fruits and vegetables. There is a movement for more fresh veggies to be included in school meals, and I think this paper supports that.” See Stanford News, September 24, 2015.