Here is an assortment of resources for locating and buying BPA-free products:
• Amazon.com‘s BPA-free section lists water bottles, baby bottles, and sippy cups. (However, I will be offering glass water bottles this summer with neoprene sleeves to protect them from breaking. So if you can hold out till then I would strongly recommend doing that as glass is the safest and most inert way to store your water, and far better than ANY plastic.)
• Nalgene now offers BPA-free water bottles.
• Brita, which makes water filtration products, says that its pitchers and filters don‘t contain BPA.
• SC Johnson, which makes Saran brand wraps and Ziploc bags and containers, says that it doesn‘t use BPA in its products.
• The Children‘s Health Environmental Coalition offers tips for how to spot plastic household products with and without BPA.
• Consumer Reports describes its BPA test results and provides advice on choosing safe plastics.
• The Z Recommends blog posted an updated guide in February that lists children‘s feeding products that don‘t contain BPA.
• BPA-free products have even appeared on eBay.
BPA is an estrogen-mimicking chemical used to make hard plastics and epoxy resins, found in numerous products that you probably use every day, including:
- Polycarbonate plastic baby bottles
- Large water-cooler containers and sports bottles
- Bottle tops
- Microwave-oven dishes
- Canned-food liners
- Some dental sealants for children
- Water supply pipes
The use of BPA is so pervasive -- industry uses more than 6 billion pounds of BPA a year -- that scientists have found that 95 percent of people tested have dangerous levels of BPA in their bodies.
Some of the biggest victims in all are your children, who may be exposed to the chemical while in utero, and quite literally “fed” the chemical via plastic baby bottles and toys (which they often put in their mouths).
A major problem with BPA is that it doesn’t stay in the plastic. It leeches into whatever food or beverage you put in a plastic container, canned good, or plastic baby bottle. Even worse, if you microwave the containers or bottles, or place hot liquids or food into them, BPA is released 55 times more rapidly!
The Good News and the Bad News
On the upside, BPA supposedly does not stay in your body long after you’re exposed. The bad news is that the chemical is so pervasive that scientists believe you’re simply being continually exposed to it from food, air, dust, and even just by touching items that contain BPA. Hence, your exposure is greater than what your body can dispose of on a regular basis and levels can rise to the point of causing biological harm.
BPA mimics the sex hormone estradiol, which can trigger major changes in your body.
According to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Smart Plastics Guide, adverse effects from BPA exposure include:
- Structural damage to your brain
- Hyperactivity, increased aggressiveness, and impaired learning
- Increased fat formation and risk of obesity
- Altered immune function
- Early puberty, stimulation of mammary gland development, disrupted reproductive cycles, and ovarian dysfunction
- Changes in gender-specific behavior, and abnormal sexual behavior
- Stimulation of prostate cancer cells
- Increased prostate size, and decreased sperm production
Of 115 published animal studies, 81 percent found significant effects from even low-level exposure to BPA, so there’s probably no real safe limit.
As a side note, NONE of the 11 industry-funded studies found any significant effects, whereas 90 percent of the government-funded studies did. Yet another piece of “coincidental evidence” that shows the power of money. Always check who funded the study before drawing your final conclusions about the results.
Making Healthier Choices in a Toxic World
Sadly, even if BPA does eventually get restricted or banned (as Canada is currently proposing), there are countless other dangerous chemicals still out there. The EPA approves new man-made chemicals to the tune of some 700 every year!
Still, every step you take toward reducing or eliminating a toxin from your life is a good one and well worth the effort, I believe. Personally, I do not wait for a government restriction to begin reducing my exposure to BPA. The evidence that has amassed thus far is enough to convince me.
To be fair, you probably can’t completely eliminate your exposure to BPA, even if you decide to move to Canada (since it’s likely in the air, water, and food supply too), but you can certainly reduce it by eliminating the most obvious culprits.
The following tips will not only reduce your exposure to BPA, but also to many of the other dangerous plastics chemicals as well.
10 Tips to Reduce Your Exposure to BPA
- Only use glass baby bottles and dishes for your baby. If you use a bottle to carry your water in, hold out for the one we are introducing in about 10-12 weeks, as it will be the only one on the market for this purpose.
- Give your baby natural fabric toys instead of plastic ones
- Store your food and beverages in glass -- NOT plastic -- containers
- IF you choose to use a microwave, don’t microwave food in a plastic container
- Stop buying and consuming canned foods and drinks
- Avoid using plastic wrap (and never microwave anything covered in it)
- Get rid of your plastic dishes and cups, and replace them with glass varieties
- If you opt to use plastic kitchenware, at least get rid of the older, scratched-up varieties, avoid putting them in the dishwasher, and don’t wash them with harsh detergents, as these things can cause more chemicals to leach into your food
- Avoid using bottled water; filter your own using a reverse osmosis filter instead
- Before allowing a dental sealant to be applied to you, or your children’s, teeth, ask your dentist to verify that it does not contain BPA
Look at the Plastic Recycling Labels
There’s no getting around reading labels these days, and this is no exception.
In the event that you do opt to use plastic containers for your food, be sure to avoid those marked on the bottom with the recycling label No. 7, as these varieties may contain BPA.
Containers marked with the recycling labels No. 1, No. 2, and No. 4 do not contain BPA (however they may contain other unsavory chemicals that you’re best off avoiding by using glass instead).
For even more information about plastic recycling symbols, please review Do You Know What Plastic Recycling Symbols Mean? from last month’s newsletter.