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Congress Moves to Ban BPA in All Food Containers

BPA, plastic food containerCongress has introduced legislation intended to establish a federal ban on bisphenol A (BPA) in all food and beverage containers. The measure would greatly expand earlier efforts to limit the chemical from products used only by babies and children.

The move came a day after Sunoco, the gas and chemical company, sent word to investors that it was now refusing to sell BPA to companies for use in food and water containers for children younger than 3. Sunoco told investors that it could not be certain of the compound's safety.

Six baby bottle manufacturers, including Playtex and Gerber, have also announced they would stop using BPA to make baby bottles.

Tests have uncovered toxic levels of the chemical in packaged products, including some marked as "microwave safe." The amounts detected were at levels that scientists have found cause neurological and developmental damage in laboratory animals. The problems include genital defects, behavioral changes and abnormal development of mammary glands.

An overwhelming majority of studies show the chemical is harmful, causing breast cancer, testicular cancer, diabetes, hyperactivity, obesity, low sperm counts, miscarriage and a host of other reproductive failures in laboratory animals. More recent studies using human data have also linked BPA to heart disease and diabetes.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
This move to get BPA out of food and beverage containers is a very positive step, one that could make your food a lot less toxic. It’s about time Congress got around to it -- BPA has already been detected in the urine of 95 percent of people tested, probably because it’s used so pervasively in everything from canned goods to plastic water bottles.

Prior to this legislation, the U.S. FDA was continuing to claim that BPA was safe, their opinions based entirely on the outcomes of just three industry-funded studies.

Meanwhile, they ignored the heaps of other evidence, including studies that showed BPA harms children at levels up to one-tenth the level  that the FDA claims is safe.

Let’s hope this new legislation gets passed with flying colors so we all have one less toxic chemical to worry about in our food.

BPA is Toxic to Your Health

BPA is an endocrine disruptor, which means it mimics your body‘s natural hormones and can trigger major changes in your body. Of 115 published animal studies, 81 percent found significant effects from even low-level exposure to BPA.

This toxic chemical first caught researchers’ attention after normal mice began to display uncommon genetic abnormalities. The defects were linked to plastic cages and water bottles that had been cleaned with a harsh detergent, causing BPA to leach out of the plastic. After determining how much BPA the mice had been exposed to, the researchers realized even an extremely small dose of 20 parts per billion daily, for just five to seven days, was enough to produce effects.

Some of the greatest concern surrounds early-life exposure to BPA.

This can lead to chromosomal errors in the developing fetus, which can cause spontaneous miscarriages and genetic damage. And being exposed to just 0.23 parts per billion of BPA is enough to disrupt the effect of estrogen in a baby's developing brain

For this reason, women of childbearing age and those who are pregnant should be especially diligent at avoiding BPA, but practically no one is immune. A study last year found the chemical can lead to heart disease, diabetes and liver problems in adults, and previous research has linked BPA to:

• 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
• Diabetes
• Heart disease
• Liver damage

Why Removing BPA From Food Containers is So Important

As it stands, BPA is one of the world's highest production-volume chemicals and is widely used in the production of:

• Plastic water bottles
• Plastic gallon milk bottles
• Plastic microwavable plates, ovenware, and utensils
• Tooth sealants
• Canned foods and soda cans (most have plastic lining in the cans)
• Baby toys, bottles, pacifiers, and sippy cups

The problem with BPA is that it doesn’t stay put in the plastic. It leeches into whatever food or beverage you put in a plastic container, plastic-lined can, or plastic baby bottle.  

And if you microwave the containers or bottles, or put hot liquids or foods into them, the BPA leaches into your food or drink 55 times faster than when used cold!

Even putting plastic containers in the dishwasher or washing them with harsh detergents increases the amount of BPA that leaches into your food, as does using scratched or worn-out plastic containers or letting your food or beverage sit in the container for too long.

But keep in mind that even if BPA does get removed from food and beverage containers, this does not mean plastic is safe again. There are still other chemicals lurking in plastic that you’re better off avoiding. Here is just a short list of them from The Ecology Center in Berkeley, California:

• Salad dressing and cooking oil bottles: This plastic container is made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride), which leaches plasticizers (lead, cadmium, mercury, phthalates and the carcinogen, diethyl hexyphosphate) into your food.

• Soda bottles, water bottles, peanut butter jars and cooking oil bottles: Made from PET (polyethylene terephthalate), they leach acetaldehyde -- a probable human carcinogen, according to the EPA -- into your food and drinks.

• Meat trays, foam take-out food containers and cups, foam packing materials: Made from polystyrene (PS), these materials leach styrene, which can damage your nervous system, into your food.

What Can You do in the Meantime?

Personally, I am doing everything I can to avoid BPA and other menacing plastics chemicals, and I suggest you do so too, especially if you are pregnant or have small children.

However it is important to realize there are likely chemicals other than BPA that are present in plastic that can be harmful to your health. While it is great that this is on its way out, it would be wise to assume that other chemicals like BPA need to be avoided as well.

So to reduce your BPA and other plastic toxin exposure:

1.    Only use glass baby bottles and dishes for your baby.

2.    Get rid of your plastic dishes and cups, and replace them with glass varieties.

3.    Give your baby natural fabric toys instead of plastic ones.

4.    Store your food and beverages in glass -- NOT plastic -- containers. Glass is the safest and most inert way to store your water and food, and is far better than ANY plastic (even BPA-free varieties).

5.    IF you choose to use a microwave, don’t microwave food in a plastic container.

6.    Use glass, ceramic, or stainless steel travel coffee mugs rather than plastic or Styrofoam coffee cups.

7.    Avoid using plastic wrap (and never microwave anything covered in it).

8.    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.

9.    Avoid using bottled water; filter your own using a high-quality filter instead.

10. Before allowing a dental sealant to be applied to your, or your children’s, teeth, ask your dentist to verify that it does not contain BPA.

Although I don’t recommend it, 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.

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