TUESDAY, Feb. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Concentrations of bisphenol A -- a chemical commonly used in making plastics -- are much lower in Canadians than Americans, a new study has found.

Bisphenol A (BPA) is used in a wide range of common products, from food packaging to electronic equipment and cars. Studies have shown that the chemical affects the reproductive systems of animals and this has raised concerns that it may have similar harmful effects in humans.

In October 2010, Canada became the first country in the world to declare BPA a health hazard.

The new study looked at BPA levels in Canadians and found that children and adolescents had the highest levels. This may be due to exposure to BPA in baby bottles or children's toys, or because children eat more food relative to their body mass, compared with adults, study author Laura Vandenberg, of the Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology at Tufts University in Medford, Mass., explained.

Vandenberg also compared BPA concentrations in Canadians and Americans, and found they were much lower in Canadians.

"The comparison between concentrations measured among Canadians and Americans are particularly interesting, because these two populations are often thought of as demographically similar," Vandenberg wrote in the report, published Feb. 22 in CMAJ: the Canadian Medical Association Journal. "Surprisingly, for each age group that was analyzed, the concentrations found among Canadians were about half those found in Americans."

Differences in the way food products are packaged in each country may be a factor, she suggested.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about BPA.