How You Might be Adding BPA and other Obesogens into Your Garden

By JULIE - 9:47:00 AM

The Poetic Garden
I got the idea for this posts when my husband recently had placed our shredded documents bin by the door to be taken out and I had the thought, "I should probably empty that into our compost bin today."  But then I thought," Oh no, I can't anymore because of the BPA.  Thank goodness I remembered that!"  I then wondered how many gardeners are doing just that and started thinking of all the ways my husband and I might be introducing BPA, phthalates, and other xenoestrogens and obesogens into our soil. 

The more I learn about health and nutrition, the more I realize how important it is to get chemicals out of our environment and bodies.  I am currently studying about hormones and I am totally blown away by what I am learning.  Basically having our hormones balanced is the foundation of good health.  I'll write a post going into depth on that sometime in the near future.  With that said xenoestrogens (obesogens), chemicals similar to estrogen or otherwise known as fake estrogen, are even more dangerous than I ever knew (and I already knew it can cause cancer and increase weight).   I wrote a post about the dangers of BPA and how to avoid it last year and have been trying to avoid it since then.

Knowing all this makes growing our own vegetables, buying organic food and cooking at home more, and eating out at restaurants that use local and organic food all the more worth while.  The great thing about growing your own food is that you don't have to wonder about the environment it's growing in, but that also means that we as organic gardeners need to be careful about what we introduce into our gardens.  There are other chemicals we can unknowingly put into our organic gardens. I learned while researching my article I wrote about the dangers of BPA that printer ink is pure BPA.  Ick!  Think about all the items you touch on a daily basis that has printer ink on it, magazines, coupons, receipt (the ink and paper is coated in it), money, and even recycled toilet paper (because all recycled paper would have ink in it). They all have BPA on it that can transfer through your skin.   Mary at Mary's Gardening Endeavors posted Trader Joe's and Von's responses to her request about using BPA free register tape.  I think Trader Joe's response should make it clear that there is BPA in almost all cans and register tape.

Why do I bring this up?  Well most people only think of plastics when they think of BPA, but what about newspaper?  I was planning to make my own seedling pots out of newspaper before I discovered this fun fact.  I found lots of cool sites with other great ideas for newspaper like using it for mulch.  I have also used our shredded papers as compost for years, whoops!  See how easy it is to accidentally add obesogens into your garden!  Scary huh?  Some other ways we might have added these scary chemicals into our garden is by using PVC pipes as trellies, plastic garden markers, and probably our garden hose and plastic watering can. 

Can plants take up BPA through the roots?   
Rainbow gardener on the helpful gardener forum cited some good evidence of this:

There is a lot of evidence that the BPA is quite toxic and there is evidence that plants can uptake it through their root systems, e.g.:

When [14C]BPA [ie. radioactively tagged BPA, tagged for them to follow where it goes] was administrated to tobacco seedlings from their roots, radioactivity was incorporated in BPAG and three unidentified metabolites. These metabolites were accumulated in the leaves after 4 h exposure, indicating that tobacco seedlings absorbed BPA through their root systems, metabolized to its β-glucoside and translocated the metabolites to their leaves.

Ways You Might Be Adding Obesogens into Your Garden
  • PVC Pipes
  • Newspaper ( by adding into compost bin, by making seedling pots, and using it as mulch)
  • Any recycled paper products used in gardening
  • plastic plant markers
  • vinyl coated wire plant supports
  • hoses many have PVC,which use lead as a stabilizer. When water sits in a PVC hose, lead can leach into the water. Also the hoses sold as antimicrobial, moss-inhibiting, or Microban. These likely contain the dangerous chemical triclosan, an ingredient linked to hormone disruption, similar to BPA. Choose a nickel-plated lead-free/PVC free hose. Also try to store your hose in the shade, if possible.
  • watering cans
  • plastic rain barrels and tubes (also be aware that chemicals from your roofing can leech into the rainwater you catch this way)
  • drip irrigation 
  • plastic planters 
  • using milk jugs or other plastic containers or containers with ink printed on it as cloches  
  • plastic gardening gloves
I plan to look for a metal gardening can while estate sale shopping (this is a great way to find gardening tools if you are just starting), look into buying a new hose, hold off on any drip irrigation plans until I do more research and make sure it's not adding any chemicals to our soil first, and use wood or metal pipes as a trellis this year (I plan to come up with other fun ways to use all our pvc pipes not in the garden).  We also bought a vinyl coated wire boarder to use as part of our protect our strawberries from squirrels plan (I'll post about that when we install it), so I think I will try to strip the vinyl off the part that comes in contact with the soil.  I figure better safe than sorry!  If you have any ideas about avoiding obesogens in your garden I haven't listed please let me know!  I love to hear from readers. What will you do to keep chemicals out of your garden?

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  1. Argh! There's BPA in ink?? Is nothing sacred!? I guess not. =/ Thanks for spreading the word.

    1. Good to hear from you Aimee. I know it's in everything. In fact I'm donating the last of the can goods in our pantry today to my local food shelf due to the BPA in all cans. I also have been doing research into hormones and have found that xenoestrogens actually are more potent than our own estrogens! And since increased estrogen leads to breast and uterine cancers not to mention strokes, heart disease, etc.... Well let's just say I'm being really careful from now on.


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