Protect Your Family from the Dangerous Chemical BPA

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Photo by Matthew Stallbaumer

Our sister publication Mother Earth News recently posted an interview with BPA researcher Frederick vom Saal of the University of Missouri’s Endocrine Disruptor Group. If you don’t know much about this dangerous chemical and corporations’ drive to keep it from being banned here in the U.S. (although its use has been banned in the EU, Canada and China, at least in children’s products), this article is a must-read.

BPA is dangerous because it’s a potent estrogen-mimicker, meaning it wreaks havoc in our bodies’ vital endocrine systems. It’s been linked to a wide array of health problems such as damage to the reproductive system, increased cancer risk, neurological disorders and behavioral disorders. It has the greatest effect on children and babies, which is unfortunate because nearly all plastic baby bottles and children’s sippy cups are made of plastic containing BPA.

The fortunate thing is that BPA is not highly bioaccumulative. Studies find BPA levels drop dramatically in the body when people stop ingesting the chemical. To rid your life of this dangerous chemical, follow two broad steps:

1. Avoid canned foods and beverages. Canned foods are ubiquitous, but avoiding them is the best way to reduce the amount of BPA you ingest. BPA is used in can liners to prevent foods from eroding the metal in the cans, and it leaches into the foods inside the cans. Organic products don’t have less BPA than nonorganic. Even some foods in cans labeled “BPA-free” contained low levels of BPA. Eden Organic is one of few brands producing canned beans and other products in BPA-free cans (although a2009 Consumer Reports study found very low level of BPA in Eden’s “BPA-free” Baked Beans-1 part per billion as opposed to 55 to 102 part per billion in the Campbell’s chicken soup). To be sure you’re BPA-free, choose dried beans over canned and soups and tomato products packaged in glass jars. Also avoid canned beverages such as soda. Nearly all soda cans are lined with BPA. Also make sure to avoid canned infant formula. Like other canned foods, it contains high levels of BPA.

2. Do not use #7 plastic. BPA has the worst effects on babies and children whose reproductive systems are developing, so be sure to avoid polycarbonate, labeled with the #7 recycling code, baby bottles and children’s cups. Klean Kanteen offers stainless steel baby bottles and sippy cups that are BPA-, phthalate- and toxin-free.Evenflo and Weego Baby, among others, offer BPA-free glass baby bottles. For more options, check out the SafeMama BPA-free cheat sheet. (Note: Even plastics labeled BPA-free can leach endocrine-disrupting chemicals.)

Polycarbonate plastic food storage containers and water bottles for adults also leach BPA, particularly when heated or scratched. Never microwave food in a plastic container of any sort. Avoid plastic water bottles such as Nalgene. Also avoid any aluminum bottles that are lined with plastic liners. Opt instead for stainless steel bottles such as those from Klean Kanteen or EcoVessel. For food storage, choose glass or stainless steel to rid your kitchen of BPA.

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