While idly watching tv on a leisurely Sunday afternoon I happened upon a PBS documentary called “Bag It”. I’m sure you can guess what it’s about. Plastic! Plastic and its environmental and health effects. It’s an interesting documentary if you’d like to gain more information on this topic. However, I’m sure under certain circumstances this documentary can be considered controversial and even political, so for now I’ll focus on plastic and BPA. I actually hadn’t heard of it until fairly recently when doing some shopping for a baby shower. I noticed a lot of bottles and pacifiers claiming to be BPA-Free. At the time I shrugged it off as another marketing ploy. But just like most things that you are introduced to, once I found out about it the more I saw it everywhere. Suddenly I was seeing articles about BPA, studies and news entries.
Bisphenol A or BPA is a compound used in some plastic manufacturing. From the research I’ve found online it appears that recyclable plastics # 1, 2, 4 and 5 usually do not contain BPA. However # 7 does contain BPA, while # 3 and 6 sometimes do. Most exposure to BPA occurs in one’s daily diet. Some studies find that BPA exposure can occur through one’s skin or even the air. BPA is found in many daily items such as: water bottles, CD’s, DVD’s, sales receipts, the lining of food and beverage cans, baby bottles and formula.
Newborn infants and children up to the age of six appear to be the most sensitive to BPA. Exposure to BPA in children seems to affect the brain and the prostate gland; it can also cause behavioral disorders. There have been some very controversial studies that link exposure to BPA to ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Of course it doesn’t stop there; BPA in our environment seems to cause adverse effects in most animals. It seems to primarily affect the endocrine system in aquatic invertebrates and the reproduction systems in amphibians and reptiles.
To be quite honest, though there have been many studies conducted on BPA it’s difficult to find a reputable source to back them up. Even the FDA’s stance is weak. They seem to say that it may cause harm but they do not recommend adjusting your daily routine. As always we suggest that you inform and decide for yourself. The Wikipedia page on Bisphenol A was particularly interesting. A brief summary on each country’s stance on BPA is included.
While researching BPA I found myself wondering if there is anything one can do to limit exposure since it appears to be everywhere. But there are a few things you can do now:
1. Check your recyclable plastics for storage. REMOVE any that are # 7’s. (Also, you might want to consider switching to glass)
2. Do NOT heat food in any plastic material
3. Do NOT wash plastic in the dishwasher
4. Do NOT wash plastic with harsh detergents
5. Avoid canned and packaged foods as much as possible