Bisphenol A (aka “BPA”) is a chemical that is used in the manufacturing process of plastics. Over the past 10 years it has garnered a lot of negative press. In 2012, the FDA banned BPA from being used in the manufacturing of baby bottles. The CDC found that over 90% of the population has “measurable amounts” of this harmful chemical in our bodies.
You’ve probably heard that you and your family should completely avoid this harmful chemical – but do you know why? We’re going to look at exactly what BPA is, how it affects babies and adults, and how you can avoid coming into contact with this highly dangerous chemical.
What is BPA?
Bisphenol A has been in use by plastic manufacturing companies since the 1960’s. It is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Most soda, water, food and beverage bottles contain polycarbonate plastics. Epoxy resins are used as a coating to line the insides of metal products such as soda/beer cans, bottle tops and even water supply lines. BPA has also been found in dental sealants and composites.
BPA gets into our bodies and bloodstreams when these plastic composites and resins “leech” it into the food and beverages that we consume. The greatest risk for BPA leeching into our food and drink supply is when the plastic starts to heat up. What most people don’t realize is that the 6 pack of soda you put into your shopping cart at the grocery store most likely sat in a very warm warehouse for at least 6 months. Then it was packed into an 18-wheeler truck and driven in hot conditions to the supermarket. The FDA claims that BPA is safe at “very low levels,” but who would willingly put harmful chemicals into their body?
How Does BPA Affect Our Bodies?
On a chemical level, BPA will mimic and interfere with the action of estrogen in our bodies. Estrogen is a hormone that is responsible for human growth and reproduction. Scientists have found concentrations of BPA in breast milk, blood, urine, and amniotic fluid. With as easy as it is for the mother to pass on BPA to her unborn and newborn children, scientists are very concerned about the effects of BPA and the overall exposure levels.
Some studies have suggested that when babies in the womb are exposed to BPA, the have a much higher risk for developing testicular, breast, and prostate cancer later in their life. Further research has shown that when cancer cells are exposed to BPA, they develop a resistance to chemotherapy. Most of the studies performed looked at the effects of BPA on such animals as cats and lab rats. They found a whole host of cancer-related issues that could directly be linked to BPA.
BPA Effects Upon Women
Some studies have linked miscarriages in women to BPA. Others found that women who have elevated levels of BPA in their bodies tend to have decreased fertility rates. There is also evidence that BPA can have a negative impact upon puberty in girls.
BPA Effects Upon Men
Men who are exposed to high-levels of BPA develop many sexual and reproductive issues. While most people don’t have super-high levels of BPA in their bodies, this study demonstrates the negative effects it can have upon men’s sexual health.
What’s Being Done to Combat This Social Issue?
By now almost every American has heard of BPA and the negative health issues that it causes. While the scientific community is still researching the effects of BPA, all signs are pointing to that it should be banned completely from consumer products.
The FDA has been lagging on banning BPA from cans and food containers – which is where the vast majority of people ingest BPA from. While there has been some efforts at State and Federal levels to ban BPA from products that are used by children age 3 and under, it’s still not enough. There are plenty of products that are sitting on the shelves of your local grocery store that contain high levels of BPA.
Change Starts with You
Everyone should be aware of BPA and actively taking steps to avoid intake of this highly dangerous chemical altogether. However, if you’re waiting on the Government to enact a full BPA ban – you probably shouldn’t hold your breath. The FDA and other government agencies have been extremely slow to react to this huge social health crisis. This is why it’s up to the consumer to make informed decisions to avoid brining this dangerous chemical into your home and body.
First off, you should make sure that any children under the age of 10 do not have access to plastic toys, sippy cups, or anything else that they could put inside their mouths. Perform a plastic roundup and look on the sides and bottoms of these products. If you see a number “7” or the letters “PC” imprinted anywhere on the item, throw it in the trash can. Those two codes are indicative that the product contains BPA. Alternatively, you can also shop at all-natural websites that sell toys for children that are BPA free.
There are other situations where you could be inadvertently introducing BPA to your family. If you microwave food in plastic containers, there’s a very good chance BPA that is contained in the plastic will leech into your food. When using the microwave to heat up food, only use stoneware, china, or glass dishes and containers. Even if the plastic tub says that it’s “microwave safe,” that’s no guarantee of safety.
Just because scientists and the FDA haven’t banned BPA altogether doesn’t mean that it’s safe. It only means that they still need to perform more scientific tests to accurately determine the extent of damage that BPA causes. It’s better to err on the side of caution and completely remove any plastic products from the lives of you and your children unless they specifically state that they’re 100% BPA-free.