Gender-Bending Chemical Detected in 91 Percent of Canadians

The industrial chemical Bisphenol A, which has been linked to developmental and reproductive problems and mimics estrogen, is present in roughly 91 percent of the Canadian population, particularly in teens aged 12 to 19.

Statistics Canada released new data Monday showing how pervasive chemicals and compounds such as BPA and mercury are in the country's population. The Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) tested a representative sample of 5,600 Canadians aged 6 to 79 between 2007 and 2009, discovering that BPA and mercury were detected in the vast majority of participants.

The urine of 91 percent of those in the study contained detectable levels of BPA, the chemical used in polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins used in the lining of canned foods, as well as in hard plastic bottles and food containers.

Many are concerned about its impact on fetuses, infants and children, where it can cause developmental problems, as well as cancer, diabetes and other ailments. It is classified in the chemical category of gender benders because it mimics estrogen.

BPA has found itself in the spotlight in recent years, with some states and cities banning its use in baby bottles and childrens' products. According to Statistics Canada, higher concentrations of BPA were detected in the urine of children aged 6 to 10, compared to adults aged 40 to 79. Teens aged 12 to 19 showed the highest concentration of BPA.

The mean concentration of BPA across the Canadian population was 1.16 micrograms per liter, in line with international research pegging mean concentrations at between 1 to 3 micrograms per liter.

Mercury was detected in the blood samples of 88 percent of Canadians, present in higher concentrations in adults aged 20 to 79. The primary transfer of mercury from the environment to the human population is through the consumption of seafood.

Mercury can also cause developmental problems for fetuses and children, which has prompted governments to warn pregnant women and those whoe may become pregnant, about the consumption of fish and shellfish.

Statistics Canada also reported Monday that blood levels of lead in the general population have fallen dramatically since last measured 30 years ago, although it is detected in 100 percent of the population. Less than 1 percent of participants in the 2007-2009 survey had blood concentration levels at or near the intervention level -- 10 micrograms per deciliter of blood -- compared to 27 percent in 1978-79. The mean concentration was 1.34 micrograms per deciliter.

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