Jump to navigation Jump to search


A group of thermoplastic polymers containing carbonate groups (O-CO-O) in their chemical structures. Polycarbonates are strong, tough durable materials that tend to be easily worked and molded. The visibly transparent plastics have a high impact resistant but low scratch resistance and are often added to windshield and glasses to increase their strength. Polycarbonates doe not conduct electricity and are heat-resistant, thus they are often used as insulators and capacitors. The term 'polycarbonate' is used solely for the polymer produced from bisphenol A and phosgene.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Brand Names: Lexan (General Electric)


  • Transparent tubes and rods
  • Transparent films and sheets
  • Flat and curved glazing

Personal Risks

Bleach (sodium hypochlorite) and alkali cleaners catalyze the release of bisphenol A (BPA) from polycarbonate (Hunt 2003, Koehler 2003).

Collection Risks

Standard resins alone are not suitable for long-term exposure to UV radiation. They will yellow with long exposure to sunlight.

Environmental Risks

  • It is listed as “other” or “7” on the resin identification code (RIC) list
  • Polycarbonate can form bisphenol A (BPA) in the environment. It is on the watch list of many countries including the United States and Germany. Bisphenol A does not break down in landfills.
  • Thermal degradation polycarbonates produce phenol and phenol derivatives, known environmental pollutants (Collin 2012, Pollution Database 2017)

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Resistant to dilute acids, alcohol and halogenated hydrocarbons.
  • Affected by concentrated acids, alkalies, aromatic solvents, and ketone
  • Tg = 147 c
  • Density = 1.2 g/ml
  • Refractive index = 1.584-1.586

Working Properties

Can be folded/bent using sheet metal techniques.


Resources and Citations

  • Omnexus: Guide on PC
  • Contributions: Molly McGath, AIC Plastics Panel, 2020.
  • Hunt, PA; Kara E. Koehler; Martha Susiarjo; Craig A. Hodges; Arlene Ilagan; Robert C. Voigt; Sally Thomas; Brian F. Thomas; Terry J. Hassold (2003). "Bisphenol A Exposure Causes Meiotic Aneuploidy in the Female Mouse". Current Biology. 13 (7): 546–553. doi:10.1016/S0960-9822(03)00189-1. PMID 12676084
  • Koehler, KE; Robert C. Voigt; Sally Thomas; Bruce Lamb; Cheryl Urban; Terry Hassold; Patricia A. Hunt (2003). "When disaster strikes: rethinking caging materials". Lab Animal. 32 (4): 24–27. doi:10.1038/laban0403-24. PMID 19753748. Archived from the original on 2009-07-06. Retrieved 2008-05-06.
  • Collin, S.; Bussière, P. -O.; Thérias, S.; Lambert, J. -M.; Perdereau, J.; Gardette, J. -L. (2012-11-01). "Physicochemical and mechanical impacts of photo-ageing on bisphenol a polycarbonate". Polymer Degradation and Stability. 97 (11): 2284–2293. doi:10.1016/j.polymdegradstab.2012.07.036.
  • "Pollution Database". pollution.unibuc.ro. Archived from the original on 2017-12-29. Retrieved 2016-11-14.