You may not have heard of Bisphenol A, also called BPA, but there’s a good chance it’s in your body already. Considered a toxic substance in Canada and parts of Europe, it’s still legally safe in the US, but there are some real concerns about it. In tests of over two thousand people between the ages of six years and eighty-five years, over ninety percent tested positive for BPA. A component of polycarbonate plastic, used in DVDs, eyeglasses, and food and beverage containers. High levels of BPA have been linked to diseases like liver failure, heart disease and diabetes.
BPA may also cause abnormal development in infants. In addition to listing BPA as a toxic substance, the government of Canada has banned the use of BPA in baby bottles. However, the FDA and EPA in the US currently maintain that there’s nothing wrong with BPA. At the same time, Congress is considered banning this substance in some products. Marked with the recycling code “7″, plastics with BPA should never be exposed to heat – either hot liquids or the microwave.
Environmental media groups have been saying that plastic water bottles and drink bottles made from polycarbonate are bad for us from some time, and studies have shown that the amount of BPA in your system is increased by nearly seventy percent if you drink from bottles of this type. A single week of use by student volunteers in a Harvard study showed a sixty-nine percent increase in the amount of BPA in urine.
Before using the polycarbonate bottle, students used stainless steel bottles and showed minimal levels of BPA. Using polycarbonate bottles a week later (never heating them, cleaning them in the dishwasher or drinking hot liquids from them) students’ levels increased significantly in only a short time. BPA has been shown to cause early sexual development in lab animals, reduce sperm count, change mammary gland structure and increase prostate size, as well.
Humans are likely to be affected in similar ways, and BPA may also be associated with uterine fibroids and endometriosis – the cause of many of the six hundred thousand hysterectomies performed in the US annually. Increased ADD and ADHD may also be caused or related to BPA exposure.
The good news is that BPA doesn’t stick around in your system – it’s out in about six hours. However, continuously using food storage containers and bottles with Bisphenol A in them means that this substance stays in your body almost continuously. The plastic is durable, light, and resistant to heat, making it a popular choice from the container users’ point of view, but the health effects are worrying.
You may find it as a liner in aluminum drink cans and food containers, too. Lined metal water bottles may also have BPA in them – if the product doesn’t claim to be BPA free, there’s a chance it isn’t. Fortunately, baby bottle manufacturers are phasing out use of BPA containing plastics in many cases, but not all of them are doing so. If you’re concerned about BPA, read labels and find out how to avoid it on your own. It could be a lot better for your health.
What’s your take on BPA? Leave a comment below to share your opinion.