For the past few years, reports on the dangers of using products with BPA — bisphenol-A — have been increasingly alarming. This chemical is used in many resin and polycarbonite products, from reusable plastic food containers and water bottles, to CDs and DVDs, to computers and electronics, to store receipts and pizza boxes. Bisphenol-A is everywhere — and it is highly toxic to humans, especially children and infants.
(Read more from this Examiner on health and nutrition.)
Reported or suspected health problems from consuming bisphenol-A — either by ingesting it, absorbing it through the skin, or inhaling it — include cancer, obesity, behavioral problems (aggression), miscarriages and birth defects. Yikes!
The most common way to consume it is ingesting it, via the leaching of bisphenol-A into food from plastic containers — especially when microwaved. But recent reports have also indicated that we get higher amounts of BPA than earlier suspected by eating canned foods with BPA in the linings.
Therefore, it’s a smart idea to eliminate as many BPAs from your life as possible. Here are some basic tips on how to avoid consuming BPAs:
To reduce exposure to bisphenol-A, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
- Don’t microwave polycarbonate plastic food containers. BPA is strong and durable, but over time it may break down from overuse at high temperatures.
- Avoid plastic containers with the No. 7 on the bottom.
- Don’t wash polycarbonate plastic containers in the dishwasher with harsh detergents.
- Reduce your use of canned foods. Eat fresh or frozen foods.
- When possible, opt for glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers, particularly for hot food or liquids.
- Use infant formula bottles that are BPA free and look for toys that are labeled BPA free.
About those reusable plastic containers: My research found that the safest containers are numbered 1 (which contains polyethylene terephthalate, or PETE) 2, 4 and 5. The numbers to avoid, then, are 3, 6 and 7, as well as plastics with NO number. So, it would be smart to go through your cabinets and ditch all suspect containers; recycle them or repurpose them as non-food storage containers. Also, containers that are scratched or stained pose a greater hazard of leaching BPAs and other chemicals, so they should definitely be tossed.
WebMD also has some great suggestions for avoiding BPAs, including:
- Don’t drink sodas or beer from cans or plastic bottles.
- When buying canned beans, soups and vegetables, buy products in jars or that are BPA free, such as Eden Organic, Westbrae Natural, or Bionaturae.
- Don’t use plastic water bottles — including the dispensers that use the 5-gallon jugs! Many of these have been shown to contain bisphenol-A. Invest in a filtration system for your tap or a BPA-free Brita pitcher, and switch to a metal reusable water bottle instead of plastic.
- Be careful when handling store receipts. Many of these use BPA technology, either in the ink or in the paper — which can be absorbed through the skin. Either decline a copy of your receipt, or learn to wash your hands often, especially during a shopping expedition or before putting the groceries away.
Bottom line: BPAs are all around us, and they definitely make life more useful. But we can avoid consuming them with a few simple precautions and changes in our habits!