5 Steps to Avoiding BPA

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Bisphenol A (BPA) is everywhere: water bottles, food containers, canned food and more plastic products than you can imagine. BPA, a synthetic estrogen, has the strongest effects on babies and infants whose bodies are still growing and developing, but this toxic chemical’s endocrine-disrupting abilities have serious implications for adults, too. BPA has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, weight gain, infertility and disorders associated with the reproductive system.

Because of its almost omnipresence in our everyday lives, avoiding BPA is hard—but not impossible! Minimize your contact with BPA by following these five steps.

canned food
Want to avoid BPA? Avoid canned food! BPA lurks in the lining of canned foods. Photo By James Calder/Courtesy Flickr.

1. Eschew canned food. 

Food manufacturers use BPA in the lining of canned foods because the chemical creates a barrier between the food and the metal can. Eating canned food is riskier than you might think. One serving of canned food a day can expose you to 83 times the recommended limit for exposure to BPA outlined by the Environmental Protection Agency. Why bother with store-bought canned food products? Food fresh from the garden will not only taste better, it’s apparently better for you, too.

2. Just say "No" to number 7.

Knowing your plastics will help you avoid BPA. Bisphenol A is the key building block in polycarbonate, a hard plastic labeled under the number 7 family of plastics. When heated, number 7 plastics can leach BPA. Before you buy, flip that plastic product over to see what number is located on its underbelly. If it’s a 7, put it back! If the plastic is either a number 2 (HDPE), 4 (LDPE) or 5 (PP), you’ve got the green light. These plastics are usually opaque and generally safe to use.

3. Opt out of receipts.

Whenever the option is available (and reasonable), turn down receipts. Not only will you be saving otherwise wasted paper, you’ll keep free-floating BPA off your hands and out of your body. Unlike the BPA found in plastics, BPA from cash register receipts isn’t chemically bound, meaning it will stick to your hands. Receipts also contain much higher levels of BPA than plastics; a plastic bottle may only contain nanograms, mere traces, of BPA, but receipts can be covered in as much as 100 milligrams of this nasty chemical.

cash register receipt
Cash register receipts are a surprising source of BPA. Unlike the kind found in plastics, BPA from receipts isn't chemically bound, meaning your hands will be covered in BPA after handling receipts. Photo By Till Dettmering/Courtesy Flickr. 

4. Breast Feed

As one Natural Home reader commented on a previous post about BPA, there is no BPA in boobies! Baby bottles and infant formula, however, both contain traces of this chemical. A survey by the Environmental Working Group found that some of the leading makers of baby formula in the U.S. use BPA in their packaging. As BPA is hardest on the tiny, developing bodies of babies and infants, it’s best to avoid formula altogether and breast feed. If breast feeding is not an option for you and your baby, use powdered formula; the EWG’s study found that babies who drink powered formula receive 8 to 20 times less BPA than those fed liquid from a can.

5. Stop Drinking Soda

The list of reasons not to drink soda is ever expanding. The most recent addition? BPA was found in 96 percent of soda cans tested. Energy drink cans contained the highest traces, but soft drinks weren’t without fault. As with canned food, manufacturers use BPA to line the cans and prevent the soda from coming into direct contact with the metal.

How do you avoid BPA?


Susan Melgren is the Web Editor of
Mother Earth Living. Find her on .