Instrumental Analysis Term Paper
As one of the highest volume chemicals produced worldwide, biphenol-A (BPA) is the estrogenic monomer used in the manufacture of plastic polymers such as polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. BPA is a single hydrocarbon molecule that binds with other molecules to form these polymers (Erler, and Novak 400-407). Bisphenol-A is synthesized using an acid catalyst to react phenol with acetone. This process is done under a mild temperature and pressure. The result gives the molecule of BPA with water. Since BPA is an isomeric compound, there can be different arrangements of atoms within this molecule ("DOW Chemical Company" 1-14). Since 1950, many major consumer production companies have been using BPA in the formation of the plastics of many different products humans use daily. In commercial production, the para, para’ isomer (p,p’) is the preferred product. The ortho, para’- BPA isomer is also produced but in low levels and is removed by recrystallization. BPA can come in the form of a white to tan crystal, flake, or powder. This compound has a mild phenolic odor yet it is not volatile. BPA is not sold directly for consumer use but serves as the raw material that makes up the polymers used to produce consumer products such as polycarbonate and epoxy resins as stated before. ("DOW Chemical Company" 1-14). Polycarbonate is used in the production of many plastics such as food and drink containers, baby bottles, baby sip cups, and many other products. Performance characteristics of polycarbonate plastics include: lightweight, toughness, optical clarity, high heat resistance, and good electrical resistance. Epoxy resins are notably used as inner liners of metallic food and drink containers to protect the food or drink from direct contact with the can. Performance characteristics of epoxy resins include: toughness, adhesion, formability, and chemical resistance. BPA can also be found in non-food related substances such as the coating of thermal paper used to make receipts, DVDs, and as an additive to certain plastics used in children’s books and toys ("America’s Children and the Environment, Third Edition" 1-35). Today, bishenol-A is found nearly anywhere in the environment such as dust particles, surface water and drinking water. Therefore, humans are exposed to BPA on a daily basis through either consumption of food and beverages that are contaminated with the chemical or environmental contamination. Over six billion pounds are produced worldwide annually, with more than two billion pounds produced in the United States alone. The production of BPA releases about two hundred thousand pounds of the chemical into the atmosphere each year ("Alaska Community Action on Toxics and Commonweal" 1-5). Each day, BPA generates approximately one million dollars in revenue for companies such as Dow Chemical Company and Bayer (Erler, and Novak 400-407). Since humans come into contact with the BPA chemical every day, the study of the safety of this product is beyond worthwhile. Although bisphenol-A is not the direct ingredient in the make-up of many plastics, it residue ends up in the environment and in contact with humans through leaching. Leaching is the natural process that causes a water soluble substance to percolate through something. Polycarbonate products may become weak or unstable overtime and may allow leaching of BPA into the material in contact with the plastic ("Alaska Community Action on Toxics and Commonweal" 1-5). The leaching of BPA is increased with heat and contact with either acidic or basic compounds. This accelerates the hydrolysis of the ester bond linking BPA molecules in polycarbonate and resins. Normal day to day activity can increase BPA leaching (Erler, and Novak 400-407). The leaching of BPA from food cans and containers can be caused by normal activity like microwaving, washing of containers and sterilizing. BPA has been found to leach from polycarbonate baby...
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