What is BPA?
BPA (bisphenol-A) is an industrial chemical that has been used to make polycarbonate plastics (to make it strong and transparent) and epoxy resins (to prevent corrosion) since 1960s.
Polycarbonate plastics are often used in food containers, water bottles, baby bottles and other things.
Epoxy resins are used to coat the inside of metal products, such as food cans, bottle tops and water supply lines.
Common Sources of BPA include items packaged in plastic containers, canned foods, toiletries, feminine hygiene products, thermal printer receipts (ATM, store receipts), household electronics, eyeglass lenses and dental filling sealants
Negative effects of BPA
Several studies have been conducted that links higher levels of BPA to the following issues:
- Altered hormone levels and impaired body function related to growth and cell repair.
- Infertility in men (low sperm count, erectile dysfunction) and women (low egg count)
- Negative influence on birth weight, brain and hormonal development in babies
- Early life exposure to BPA resulting in asthma and cancer risk in later life
- Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes
- Risk of Obesity and Increased Waist Circumference
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and Breast Cancer
- Premature delivery in pregnant women
- Abnormal Liver, Thyroid and Immune function
How to Minimize Your Exposure to BPA?
When BPA products are made, not all the BPA gets sealed into the product. This allows part of it to break free and mix with whatever that comes in contact with the product - be it food, water or skin.
Avoiding BPA completely may be impossible, given that it is available in almost every commercial product around us. Here are a few effective ways to minimize your exposure to BPA:
Avoid packaged foods: Eat mostly fresh, whole foods which could cut down on BPA exposure by at least 60%
Drink from glass bottles: Buy liquids that come in glass bottles instead of plastic bottles or cans. For the house and office, buy and use bottles made of glass or BPA-free stainless steel instead of plastic ones.
Avoid handling thermal paper receipts – These include receipts from ATM, grocery stores, movie tickets, etc. In receipts, these compounds are “free” and can easily migrate from the product to your skin and other surfaces. Wash hands after handling receipts and skip receipts whenever possible.
Don’t microwave plastic: When exposed to heat, the plastic may break down over time and allow BPA to leach into foods. Microwave food in glass rather than plastic. Use glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers for hot foods and liquids instead of plastic containers.
Be careful when washing plastics: Avoid using harsh detergents when washing plastic containers, and do not wash them in the dishwasher.
Don’t buy plastic baby toys: Opt for toys made from natural materials rather than plastic, especially for toys that your little one is likely to suck or chew on.
Buy powdered infant formula: Some recommend powders over liquids from BPA containers, as liquid is likely to absorb more BPA from the container.
Switch to organic toiletries and safe hygiene products: These include organic shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant and cosmetics. EWG’s Skin Deep database is a good resource to help you find products free of BPA or other dangerous chemicals.
Cut back on cans. Reduce your use of canned foods since most cans are lined with BPA-containing resin. Whenever possible, use fresh or frozen fruits and veggies instead of canned ones.
Replace kitchen plastics - Rely on the longer-lasting variety instead of using utensils, plates and cups made out of plastic. Use parchment paper instead of plastic wrap.
Are BPA-free products any safer?
Not necessarily. In BPA-free products, BPA is replaced by bisphenol-S (BPS) or bisphenol-F (BPF).
However, recent research reports that BPS and BPF behave similarly to products with BPA and may cause similar negative effects.Thus, BPA-free products may not be the solution. You can follow the same rules to avoid the associated hazards that you would use for BPA.
Plastic items labeled with the recycling numbers 3 and 7 or the letters “PC” likely contain BPA, BPS or BPF.
Should You Worry about BPA?
Limiting your BPA exposure is probably a good idea, especially women in their early stages of pregnancy.
As for others, occasionally drinking from a plastic bottle or eating from a can is probably no reason to panic.
That being said, taking steps to minimize exposure requires not much effort for a potentially big impact. BPA has a relatively short half-life so it is possible to reduce levels quickly and drastically by avoiding common exposure.
h/t Authority Nutrition