More BPA Concerns Surface

A worrying read on the Civil Eats blog – our exposure to BPA (Bisphenol-A) is much worse than we think:

According to a new study, exposure to the gender-bending chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA) is worse than previously estimated. The study, which appeared Monday in Environmental Health Perspectives, is the first to recreate the chronic daily intake of BPA in humans, which leaches into our food–our primary channel for exposure–via its packaging. Researchers showed this by feeding a steady BPA-spiked diet to mice, whereas previous studies have only used a single exposure. read more…

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. 12 billion pounds of BPA are produced annually, for use in food packaging, PVC water pipes, electronics, and more. Demand is growing at 5% each year.

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. In October 2010, Canada declared BPA a toxin.

14. If you think you’re safe, 95% 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 rather than canned.

4. Drink tap water instead of bottled water.

5. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

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  • ProfessorM

    Important to remember that even plastic it does not contain BPA, it may still contain other estrogenic compounds that could be even more harmful than BPA.

    • Guest

      Exactly what I was coming here to say. Isn’t it about 80% of plastics leech hormone-like chemicals? So it’s not just BPA and we need to demand that all plastic be tested and shown to be hormone leeching free before it is allowed to be sold.

  • carolplotkin

    If BPA is in PVC water pipes how safe is drinking tap water? It seems like it is a daunting task to avoid BPA. Also, some of the BPA substitutes in BPA-free plastic are no better it seems.

  • Mary C.

    In #15 in that list is the 50% drop in BPA in peoples tested in Japan?

  • Stephanie

    Great post.  I was actually just doing some research for a post on sustainable tuna and found a brand that does not use BPA in their cans (Wild Planet).  An added bonus, and another reason to pay the premium.

    I’m a fan of glass jars, myself.  For lunch, water bottles, leftovers, etc.

  • MH

    You’re not supposed to heat baby formula or breastmilk in a microwave anyway (scalding risk–Google it if you like). Run warm water over the bottle.
    I’ve recently gotten a pressure cooker so I can buy fewer canned goods. As others have said, alternatives to BPA are not necessarily safe either.

  • Lauren Slayton

    this is so scary. Why do people still use plastic water bottles? We need an intervention. 
    Not sure BPA free is super safe either. What to do? I have questions about BPA and weight (since disrupts hormones) and sadly when you mention this to people that make changes, sad again.

  • Unitfreebie

    Excellent info…. no mo BPA for me!

    But a lot better than the lead water pipes used in the Roman times!

  • Wmarie222

    great info. I will inform others about Bpa

  • Donald J Heyrman

    How safe is it to cover food for reheating with plastic w rap in the microwave? E.g. Cling wrap, etc? Also, what about those firm plastic discs to cover your food with while microwaving to reheat food for 30-60 seconds? Anyone have any data on this?