15 Quick Facts About BPA [Chemical Thingy in Bottles & Cans]

The December Edition of Consumer Reports, already out, is bringing BPA, a controversial chemical, back to the headlines. The non-profit publisher, Consumers Union, tested various canned foods for BPA and found alarmingly high values in daily staples such as tuna, beans and soups. You can read more about it here.

This is a good opportunity to get reacquainted with a chemical we  all consume in some form, whether we know it, like it, or not.

What you need to know:
1. Bisphenol-A  is a chemical compound used as a building block of several polymers and polycarbonates that in turn are found in plastic bottles and cans. Which means all of us are exposed to tiny amounts, whether drinking canned juice, milk from a baby-bottle, or any other product sold in a plastic container or a can.

2. The chemical has been sold since the 1940′s and starting in the 1960′s has been lining the insides of cans in order to extend shelf life.

3. 7 billion pounds of BPA are produced annually, for use in food packaging, PVC water pipes, electronics, and more.

4. In 2008, more than 22 billion cans for food and more than 100 billion cans for beer and soft drinks were produced with BPA.

5. BPA behaves like the hormone estrogen once it enters the body and disturbs the normal working of certain genes. Estrogen mimicking chemicals like BPA are potentially harmful even at very low doses, such as those found in plastic bottles and cans.

6. Toxicity questions have been around for decades, raising safety issue, especially for babies who ingest a proportionally larger amount due to their small size. Potential problems include hyperactivity, learning disabilities, brain damage, and immune deficiencies.

7. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calculated that people consume 50 micrograms of BPA per kilogram of body weight every day over the course of a lifetime. Over 40 studies have found adverse health effects in rats given less than one hundredth of that amount!

8. Over 200 animal studies that have linked BPA consumption in tiny amounts to a host of reproductive problems, brain damage, immune deficiencies, metabolic abnormalities, and behavioral oddities like hyperactivity, learning deficits and reduced maternal willingness to nurse offspring.

9. In 2008, Canada added BPA to its list of toxic substances and plans are to ban BPA from all baby bottles.

10. The FDA has zigzagged on BPA safety. In August 2008 it deemed BPA safe. However, in December 2008, the FDA’s own advisory board accused the FDA of weighing 2 industry-backed studies much more heavily than the hundreds of other independent studies. The FDA’s excuse: all the other studies did not meet the FDA’s guidelines for determining safety for human consumption, did not provide raw data, and a host of other “reasons”.

11. In March 2009, six manufacturers announced that they would voluntarily stop manufacturing bottles with BPA. Playtex Products, Gerber, Evenflo, Avent America, Dr. Brown and Disney First Years decided to so in order to preempt legal action being considered at the time by several state attorney generals.

12. In May 2009, Chicago became the first city to ban sales of baby bottles and sippy cups with BPA. Denmark became the first European country to do the same.

13. Many other European countries conducted reviews in the past 2 years but decided to maintain BPA’s safe status for now.

14. If you think you’re safe, 93% of the population has BPA in their bodies, according to urine sampling conducted by the Center for Disease Control, CDC.

15. There’s hope – Many Japanese manufacturers voluntarily stopped using BPA in 1997. In a 2003 study, BPA levels in people’s urine had dropped by 50%.

What to do at the supermarket:
Here are some tips on how to reduce your family’s  BPA intake:
1. if you have a baby or toddler, purchase BPA free plastic bottles.
2. If microwaving formula, do so in a glass bottle.
3. Opt for fresh or frozen products less than canned.
4. Drink tap water instead of bottled water

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  • Trixy

    Just a side note that breastfeeding our babies will reduce their exposure to this. Say no to bottle feeding!

  • Amber

    Agreed, Trixy! Breastfeeding will reduce our kids exposure to this as well- Bottle feeding isn’t as healthy for them anyway- whether is formula OR breastmilk. Babies get many benefits from nursing from mom.

  • Jack

    I know these comments are over a year old… but if you, as a mother, ingest these chemicals they are passed onto your infant THROUGH your breastmilk. I think it would be safer to avoid this stuff all together.