Heavy exposure to bisphenol A (BPA)—a chemical widely used in hard plastic bottles— is linked to higher rates of impotence as well as decreased sexual desire and satisfaction in men, according to new research published in Human Reproduction, The Associated Press reports.

BPA is used in a variety of consumer products including metal food and beverage cans.

For the study, researchers studied 164 male Chinese factory workers exposed to high levels of BPA while at work. Scientists then compared these men with 386 other men in the same town who worked at different factories or were married to factory workers.

The study’s findings indicated that the workers with higher BPA exposure were four times as likely to report erection problems, about seven times as likely to have difficulty ejaculating and about four times as likely to report low sex drive or decreased satisfaction with their sex lives.

Scientists measured BPA exposure by sampling the air, and they measured sexual functioning by interviewing the men.  

Although researchers concluded that the study’s results prove the men’s sexual problems were clearly related to their BPA exposure, other experts think the findings aren’t relevant for consumers. (The study participants had BPA levels 50 times higher than those typically faced by American men.)

De-Kun Li, MD, a senior reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente’s research division, and the study’s lead author, said it was unclear whether more typical BPA doses would have the same effects.

Li added that although the finding shouldn’t alarm people, it would be wise to limit BPA exposure while scientists research effects from lower doses.  

Read more about the effect of BPA on health here.