The Dangers of BPA and Tips on How to Avoid It
So I felt like we were all ok on the BPA front....until I recently started learning more about BPA and how it is in more items then I ever thought possible.
What is BPA and Why Should I be Concerned About it?
BPA is the main substance used in polycarbonate plastic, which is clear hard, and nearly shatter-proof, is used to make a variety of common products including baby and water bottles, sports equipment, medical and dental devices, dental fillings and sealants, eyeglass lenses, kitchen utensils, food storage containers, travel mugs, water bottles, print cartridges (including receipts) CDs and DVDs, and household electronics. BPA is also a main component of the epoxy linings found in metal food and beverage cans.
A growing body of scientific research has linked the estrogenic compound bisphenol-A (BPA) to a variety of health problems, such as infertility, prostate cancer, and breast cancer. It has known to be estrogenic, female sex hormones, since the 1930's. Bisphenol A is an endocrine disruptor, which can mimic the body's own hormones and may lead to negative health effects. Endocrine disruptors have been found to cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders. Specifically, they are known to cause learning disabilities, severe attention deficit disorder, cognitive and brain development problems, deformations of the body (including limbs); sexual development problems, feminizing of males or masculine effects on females, etc. It has even been linked to obesity in an 2008 review. I don't know about you but anything that can mimic hormones sounds scary to me. Especially when you consider what hormones do for us. I'd personally rather not take the risk.
Fox News Story on BPA
As I stated before I found that BPA is in things I never thought of before. Upon hearing more evidence of the dangers of BPA it made me think maybe I should make sure I really am doing all I can to avoid BPA. So I did a basic search on how to avoid BPA, only to find the same basic generic advice like I mentioned before that I had already took steps to avoid. I only found one that went more in depth about how to avoid BPA from Real Food Whole Health. One idea I got from this article was to bring my own reusable mesh bag to the grocery store to avoid using the plastic bags, hey it's better for the environment anyways. Look for a tutorial on that to come! Another is to avoid touching receipts because printer cartridge ink is pure BPA. Who would have ever thought of that? The EWG did an interesting study on this. Recycled paper products (including toliet paper) have been found by the EPA to contain BPA due to the fact that the ink that was originally in it is pure BPA. I also thought that BPA is only in canned items like tomatoes (that are highly acidic), but found that most canned items contain BPA. The Dec 2009 issue of consumer reports magazine did a test that showed most canned items contain BPA, some at higher levels than they feel are safe. All the more reason to use fresh foods and avoid the middle aisles. I mostly buy soups, chilli, and coconut milk in cans. I plan to now buy coconut milk from the refrigerator section (it's cheaper anyways), make homemade soups and chillis instead (look for recipes to come). Another surprise culprit is aluminum popcans. I found Cocoa Cola's stock holder's even voted on removing BPA from their cans (only 22% voted to do so).Luckily we already switched to only drinking natural sodas from glass anyways.
What is BPA in?
- Infant formula
- Recycled paper (including toilet paper that is recycled according to the EPA)
- US Dollar bills (because the ink in printing is pure BPA, it is a lower level but 95% tested positive for it)
- Credit card receipts at the gas station and your local restaurant (the BPA is not chemically bound and will stick to your skin and has higher levels than plastics)
- Wine (fermented in BPA-resin lined vats) sad :(
- Beer (likewise)
- Rubbermaid polycarbonate-lined baking tins used by Subway
- Pop (soda) cans
- canned products (even organic can have it)
- Common plastic cups used in college cafeterias
- Blue-tinted hard plastic 5-gallon drinking water bottles. (Some water filters that store filtered water in polycarbonate containers.)
- plastic food storage containers
- dental fillings
- baby bottles
- water bottles (use stainless steel instead with filtered water)
- Use glass, stainless steel, paper, cloth, or ceramic containers for your food and beverages. If you feel you have to use plastic, SPI 4, 5, 1 & 2 are considered the safer options. Not all SPI 7 plastic contains BPA, but unless it is specifically labeled as "BPA-free," it's hard to know which do or don't.
- Never heat food in plastic, or put warm or hot food into plastic containers (that includes plastic cling wraps). Remember that “microwave safe” only means that the container or cling wrap won’t deform; it has nothing to do with your safety.
- Avoid contact between fatty or acidic foods and plastic.
- Recycle any worn or scratched plastic, and don’t put plastic in the dishwasher.
- Breastfeed. If not, use glass bottles and buy un-canned, powdered formula.
- Don’t buy canned foods or beverages (do fresh or frozen veggies and fruit instead)
- Wrap sandwiches in cloth or paper
- Bring your own utensils, (I saw a pair of personal bambo utensil set at Seward's Co-op I was eying today or you could get biodegradable disposable silverware that's not petroleum based).
- If you use a plastic reusable bottle (like Nalgene), make sure it is BPA-free, or better yet use a stainless steel container
- Invest in a filter, and keep water in glass or ceramic or stainless steel containers. Most water coolers, and the bottles that go with them, contain bisphenol A.
- Buy glass appliances like blenders
- Replace plastic coffee filters with ceramic or metal ones, if you use a french press make sure to have all metal and glass (mine is a Bodum and the strainer is plastic I'm looking for a new one soon).
- skip the receipt or have the cashier place it in your bag (but not if it's by unpackaged food) and use a tissue to avoid touching it at home, wash your hands after touching
- wash your hands after touching dollar bills
- do not drink soda from a can (we get soda made from sugar in a glass bottle only)
- bring your own cloth reusable bag to the grocery store, not the typical reuse bags seen being sold at the major box chains that aren't made from real fabric and made in China (which isn't very green anyways considering the transport energy used to bring it here) because they have lead in it, not what you want buy your food.
- don't buy recycled toilet paper or paper products
- brew your coffee in a glass french press and move it so you don't pour it through the plastic strainer (this is what I do and works!)
Direct Evidence Revealing Structural Elements Essential for the High Binding Ability of Bisphenol A to Human Estrogen-Related Receptor-γ., EHP.
Concentration of bisphenol A in thermal paper, Green Chemistry Letters and Reviews,Volume 4, Issue 1, 2011.
Concern over canned foods: Our tests find wide range of Bisphenol A in soups, juice, and more. Consumer Reports. Dec 2009