What Is Bisphenol-A & How To Avoid It

Bisphenol-A, a toxic chemical used to make baby bottles, plastic water bottles, and food and beverage can liners, has been linked to heart disease and diabetes. Even so, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) insists that the chemical is fine for use by infants, children and adults.
BPA, an artificial sex hormone, has produced irreversible damage in test animals. It has been under fire from environmentalists, scientists, and, increasingly, concerned moms.

The FDA, the federal agency charged with regulating food safety, has argued that BPA can continue to be used in consumer products. The agency cites 2 studies indicating that the chemical is safe, despite the fact that both studies were funded by the chemical industry.

Environmental Working Group, the consumer watchdog research institute, says, “The FDA has refused to take into serious consideration more than 100 independent animal studies suggesting the toxic chemical could be linked to serious disorders in humans, including prostate cancer, breast cancer, diabetes, early puberty, obesity and learning and behavioral problems.”

University of Missouri research scientist Frederick Vom Saal today released one of the most comprehensive studies ever published on BPA. The study links heart disease and diabetes to continual, low-dose exposure to BPA — exactly the kind of exposure you would get from drinking canned sodas regularly or drinking regularly from plastic bottles.

In an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, scientists report a strong correlation between levels of BPA in American adults and these diseases, both of which are increasing.

“These startling results only increase the urgency of removing BPA from products used by young children,” said EWG senior scientist Anila Jacob M.D., M.P.H. “If the adult population in the U.S. is seeing links between this toxic chemical and heart disease and diabetes, imagine what impact much higher exposure levels are having on babies whose bodies are just developing.”

The National Toxicology Program, an arm of the National Institutes of Health, has asserted that it has “some concern” for BPA’s negative impact on “development of the prostate gland and brain and for behavioral effects in fetuses, infants and children.”

“If this weren’t so serious, it would be laughable,” said EWG VP for Research, Jane Houlihan. “Here we have an agency that time and again makes the wrong call on everything from pharmaceuticals, tomatoes and toothpaste, and we’re supposed to take them at their word over a toxic sex hormone found in baby products.”

Until state or federal laws outlaw BPA in consumer products, you can protect yourself by:

•minimizing your consumption of canned food and canned beverages, as BPA may be used to line the cans; choose fresh or frozen food and bottled juices instead.
•buying only water bottles or baby bottles that explicitly say they are BPA-Free.
•using glass baby bottles and reusable water bottles made from stainless steel or aluminum.
•avoiding plastic food and beverage containers that are made with #7 plastic; you should see the number in a triangle on the bottom of the bottle.

This Bill Moyers Journal segment offers great background on Bisphenol-A:

Which plastic water bottles don’t leach chemicals?
Choose your water bottles very carefully in order to prevent chemicals in the plastic from leaching into your water.

Plastic water bottles are very convenient for carting water around when we are on the go, as they don’t break if we drop them. However, it is worth paying attention to the type of plastic your water bottle is made of, to ensure that the chemicals in the plastic do not leach into the water. If you taste plastic, you are drinking it, so get yourself another bottle.

To be certain that you are choosing a bottle that does not leach, check the recycling symbol on your bottle. If it is a #2 HDPE (high density polyethylene), or a #4 LDPE (low density polyethylene), or a #5 PP (polypropylene), your bottle is fine.
The type of plastic bottle in which water is usually sold is usually a #1, and is only recommended for one time use. -Do not refill it- . Better to use a reusable water bottle, and fill it with your own filtered water from home and keep these single-use bottles out of the landfill.

Unfortunately, those fabulous colourful hard plastic lexan bottles made with polycarbonate plastics and identified by the #7 recycling symbol, may leach BPA. Bisphenol A is a xenoestrogen, a known endocrine disruptor, meaning it disturbs the hormonal messaging in our bodies. Synthetic xenoestrogens are linked to breast cancer and uterine cancer in women, decreased testosterone levels in men, and are particularly devastating to babies and young children. BPA has even been linked to insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes. Nalgene, the company that manufactures the lexan water bottles also makes #2 HDPE bottles in the same sizes and shapes, so we have a viable alternative.

Unfortunately, most plastic baby bottles and drinking cups are made with plastics containing Bisphenol A. In 2006 Europe banned all products made for children under age 3 containing BPA, and as of Dec. 2006 the city of San Franscisco followed suit. In March 2007 a billion-dollar class action suit was commenced against Gerber, Playtex, Evenflo, Avent, and Dr. Brown’s in Los Angeles superior court for harm done to babies caused by drinking out of baby bottles and sippy cups containing BPA. So, to be certain that your baby is not exposed, use glass bottles.

Check the recycling numbers on all your plastic food containers as well, and gradually move to storing all food in glass or ceramic. Store water in glass or brass if possible, and out of direct sunlight.


Sources:
http://www.thedailygreen.com/
http://coolrain44.wordpress.com/2009/07/22/plastic-bottles-are-they-safe-what-do-the-numbers-mean/