What is BPA?
BPA (Bisphenol A) is a chemical that has been used for more than 40 years in the manufacturing of many hard plastic food containers such as baby bottles, reusable cups, and water bottles, as well as the lining of metal food and beverage cans.
What does BPA do in our bodies?
Low levels of BPA have been found to have significant biological effects on our bodies. Its mode of action appears to mimic that of the female hormone, estrogen. For this reason, BPA belongs to a group of chemicals termed hormone disruptors or endocrine disruptors, which are able to disrupt the chemical messenger system in the body. Research suggests that BPA exposure may be responsible for:
1. The decline in sperm counts and increase in male infertility problems
2. Increased rates of hormone related cancers
3. Birth defects of the reproductive tract
4. Earlier puberty in girls
5. An increase in hyperactivity and behavioral problems
6. Increased adipogenesis in children after weaning (leading to obesity)
7. An increased incidence of insulin resistance (leading to Type II diabetes)
How can I avoid exposure to BPA?
1. Use beverage containers that are "BPA free" such as those from Klean Kanteen
2. Check the bottom of plastic containers for the triangle symbol. If you see “PC” (usually in or near the recycling triangle) that signifies polycarbonate plastic, containing BPA. Often a number “7” on the bottom in the recycling triangle, by itself, also means the material is polycarbonate, but not always. To be safe, avoid #7 plastic. Choose plastics labeled #1, #2, or #5 in the recycling triangle, but never heat beverages or food in plastic containers of any kind.
3. Avoid canned foods and canned beverages: Unfortunately, BPA can leach from the lining of metal cans into the foods and liquids contained within. Whenever possible, purchase food/drinks in glass containers. The one exception to this rule, is canned bean products from the company Eden Foods
4. Use glass to drink from and store food in whenever possible
5. Use only BPA-free products and toys for your children
Why is BPA still in products?
At the federal level, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has put BPA on a regulatory fast track, along with five other chemicals of concern. Even with that initiative, it may be years before protective guidelines are released. Currently in Oregon and Washington, legislators are pushing to get BPA out of our product stream and out of our bodies sooner than later, but until then we, as consumers, need to be aware of what we are buying and putting into our bodies on a daily basis.
Want to read more about the current legislation regarding BPA?
Safe Baby Bottle act of 2009
Oregon groups, legislators support new FDA guidelines on reducing exposure to bisphenol A
Let's Get Rid of BPA Products In Children's Products in 2010