BPA stands for bis-phenol A and is a chemical compound that has been used to make certain plastics and resins for the last 25 years or so. It’s purpose is to make polycarbonate plastic. Which is used for containers and coatings such as the lining of metal food containers, water bottles, pizza boxes and food take-out containers.
BPAs are found in everything from car bumpers to baby bottles to tomato sauce to cash-register receipts. The chemical is also found in life-saving lightweight medical equipment and security panels. It’s even used to make eyeglasses lenses and toys. BPAs are so prevalent in our society that the CDC reported in 2007 that the chemical was detected in the urine in 93% of the population over 6 years of age in this country. And was linked to a host of health problems.
The benefits of BPAs are that they make plastics strong, transparent and shatter-proof. It also makes them lightweight and vehicles with plastic parts more efficient and safe. It’s heat-resistance comes in handy when making smaller lightweight computer components for drives and machinery. It also responds well to adhesives and therefore can literally be “stuck” anywhere.
BPAs have come under fire because of the long-term effects of the compound in laboratory animals. Basically, animals that were exposed to, ate out of and were weaned on products high in BPAs developed several problems. Among them, low birth weight, miscarriages, cancer, diabetes and obesity.
Very recently, (March 30, 2012), the FDA rejected the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) proposal to ban bisphenol A in food-contact materials. The FDA states that there isn’t enough evidence to prove that the amount of BPAs present in food containers is enough to harm humans. Basically, they’re saying the amount of the chemical used in our food containers and baby bottles is (on average) 30,000 times lower than what the lab rats were exposed to.
What bothers me is that no one really knows how much each person ingests of the substance cumulatively, or how it effects people who are immuno-compromised.
Also, human babies tend to ingest more of the chemical than adults, because, a) they use baby bottles made with the substance and b) their mother’s injest it and transfer it to them several times a day when they’re breast feeding, and c) because…well..babies put things in their mouths. Most of their toys are plastic.
The scientific community has also reported a link between BPAs, phthalates and “autistic behavior” in children.
The only thing that the medical community, activists, and the FDA agree on is that BPA is released faster in hot water. Canada has banned the substance in all baby clothes, bottles and toys, and the entire European Union has banned baby bottles made with the substance since 2010.
Personally, I try to avoid BPAs (as much as I am able) in terms of anything I could ingest. Such as food containers and drink bottles. For instance, I recently switched my water bottle to the BPA free self-filtering Hydros Bottle. I also don’t microwave food in plastic containers, (I know I really shouldn’t microwave at all, I’m trying). I also own this BPA-free travel mug for my coffee and tea. And when I read EcoKaren’s article about canned tomatoes, it downright frightened me. So now I try to buy chopped tomatoes in a jar, if I don’t just chop them up myself.
In an upcoming post, I list more ways that you can avoid BPAs in your home, office and life.
*How do you avoid BPAs?