BPA - PLASTICS and FOOD CONTAINERS
Why are plastics and food containers harmful to us?
What is in plastics and how do these toxins affect us?
What exactly is Bisphenol-A (BPA)?
How does it affect me my family?
What products contain BPA and what should I throw out without going overboard?
Let me assure you that by reading this article and making some simple changes in your life you will provide a safer environment for your family, if only by educating yourself on this topic. I am not a professional doctor or scientist so what I have attempted to do is pull down relevant research from the internet and attempted to decipher the lingo and make it easier to for the non-scientist to evaluate. There are an extraordinary amount of products that contain BPA at a variety of levels and it is up to you how far you want to go to remove BPA from your house. I will provide you with an idea of what BPA is and what affects it has on you and your family according to recent studies. I will outline key items, which I refer to as my hit list, which you should consider not purchasing and/or remove from your house immediately.
Products to stay away from
Hard clear plastic, usually indicated as a number 7 plastic on the bottom, that contains BPA.
All plastic numbered 3 and 6. Number 3 (PVC) and Number 6 (Polystyrene) are also known to leach harmful chemicals
Canned foods, especially canned formula, that are lined with BPA
What should I replace them with?
I have switched almost all of my plastics within my kitchen to glass. Glass is a safe alternative and rather than diving into every plastic container/bottle and their contents, I found switching to glass easier. Glass baby bottles are gaining traction in the market and are a great alternative to the standard plastic bottles. Two manufacturers of glass bottles are Evenflo (however you need to use silicone nipples instead of their standard rubber nipples) and BornFree. BornFree also offers BPA free plastic bottles for those who are concerned about the potential of glass bottles breaking around their children.
As for toys, try keeping your eye out for natural wooden toys with lead free paint rather than plastic ones (they tend to be around the same price and most are conscious enough to be lead free as well). We provide natural wooden toys made by Plantoys on our website and I’m sure you’ll find a few more brands through the web.
BPA- What is it?
BPA is an abbreviation for Bisphenol-A. BPA is an ‘ingredient’ used in the chemical compound that lines the inside of food containers such as canned goods and cartons for liquids like milk and juice. It also is the major building block in Polycarbonate plastic. Plastics with the number 7 on the bottom of the container.
How does it get into me?
The bonds in BPA are prone to leaching (falls apart from its parent compound) into the foods contained within the can/carton or plastic container. This takes place over time and can be accelerated with heat.
How Does it affect me?
BPA acts as an environmental estrogen and once it is ingested it can disrupt proper hormone functioning, alter genes and interferes with normal physical and behavioral development.
My children come first!
The effects of BPA will be more pronounced in children because they are growing and developing at such a rapid pace. We as adults have mature brains (most of us anyway) and bodies. Therefore the interaction of BPA and our hormones/genes are dulled in comparison.
The case against BPA
The commentary to follow shows that the debate is still out regarding BPA, however research has proven at least some adverse affects of BPA ingestion. Obviously it is in the best interest of major plastic and food container manufacturers to quell this debate although in recent months it has hit the forefront with respect to our children. Hopefully over time the corporations producing these toxic products will bend to the pressure.
Two Researchers, Fredick S vom Saal and Claude Hughes, from the University of Missouri have concluded the following:
‘In this commentary, we document for the scientific, public health, and regulatory communities that exposure of experimental animals to "low doses" of BPA, which result in tissue levels within and even below the range of human exposure, has been related to adverse effects in a large number of recently published studies.
A recent case-control study reporting that blood levels of BPA are related to ovarian disease in women (Takeuchi et al. 2004) adds to our concern. A large number of in vitro studies show that effects of BPA are mediated by both genomic and nongenomic estrogen-response mechanisms, with disruption of cell function occurring at doses as low as 1 pM or 0.23 ppt (Wozniak et al. 2005).
Although the focus of most studies of effects of BPA has been on its estrogenic activity, recent reports indicating the potential to disrupt thyroid hormone action (Moriyama et al. 2002; Zoeller et al. 2005) mean other modes of action must also be considered. Very low part-per-trillion doses of BPA also cause proliferation of human prostate cancer cells via binding to a mutant form of the androgen receptor expressed in a subpopulation of prostate cancer cells (Wetherill et al. 2002), although BPA acts as an androgen antagonist in the presence of the wild-type androgen receptor (Lee et al. 2003; Paris et al. 2002) and can also block testosterone synthesis (Akingbemi et al. 2004).
A comprehensive document containing all of the low-dose BPA references, as well as information concerning mechanisms of action, pharmacokinetics, sources of exposure, and exposure levels in humans, is available online (Endocrine Disruptors Group 2005).
Our current conclusion that widespread exposure to BPA poses a threat to human health directly contradicts several recent reports from individuals or groups associated with or funded by chemical corporations [Association of Plastics Manufacturers in Europe (APM) 2005; Gray et al. 2004; Kamrin 2004; Purchase 2004]. For example, a recently published report on BPA prepared by a panel convened by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis (HCRA), which was funded by the American Plastics Council (APC), concluded that "the weight of the evidence for low-dose effects is very weak" (Gray et al. 2004). However, the charge to the HCRA panel, which was to perform a weight-of-the-evidence evaluation of available data on the developmental and reproductive effects of exposure to BPA in laboratory animals, led to an analysis of only 19 of 47 available published studies on low-dose effects of BPA. The deliberations of the HCRA were in 2001-2002, and accordingly, a cut-off date of April 2002 was selected for consideration of the published literature.
It is regrettable that the relevance of the analysis was further undermined by a delay of 2.5 years in publication of the report. During the intervening time, between April 2002 and the end of 2004, a large number of additional articles reporting low-dose effects of BPA in experimental animals have been published. The result is that by the end of 2004, a PubMed (National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD ) search identified 115 published studies concerning effects of low doses of BPA in experimental animals.
The last U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) risk assessment for BPA was based on research conducted in the 1980s [Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) 1988]. The most recent risk assessment of BPA was based on a comprehensive review of the scientific literature conducted in 1998 by the European Union, with some selected articles added through 2001, at which time few of the 115 low-dose BPA studies had been published [European Chemicals Bureau (ECB) 2003].
I hope this has helped increase your awareness of the concerns surrounding BPA and that you will use this information to continue your own research. Developing your own conclusion as to what change (if any) you need to implement is extremely important. Remember, a lot of people pass on information they have ‘heard’ but by doing your own homework you can weed out ‘folk lore’ from the truth and therefore make educated decisions regarding your children and family.