An industrial grade chemical used in epoxy resins, known as bisphenol A (BPA), is a protective lining of some food and beverage cans. They believe this makes a product safer and easier to use, but the chemical has actually demonstrated significant side effects that damage your health. This chemical was discovered in the 1890’s and later found in the 1950’s that it could be added to polycarbonate plastics to make them stronger and more resilient.
Exposure to BPA has shown effects on the brain, behavior, increased blood pressure and fetal and infant development, but the FDA continues to tell us it is safe in low doses.
Many products such as food containers, baby toys, plastic bottles and containers are found to contain BPA where even low doses might be a challenge. When products are labeled BPA-free, that doesn’t necessarily mean the product does not release BPA or endocrine-disrupting chemicals used to strengthen plastics.
It takes many years for plastics to decay or erode while leaching chemicals into our environment every day. The Environmental Health Perspective, in their 2011 study, found products claiming to have estrogenic-activity free plastics were still leaching chemicals into food products when placed under regular stresses. There are studies demonstrating endocrine-disrupting chemicals like BPA do trigger diseases in humans and animals. European Union has restricted their use in baby bottles.
The researchers immersed plastic teething toys in water for an hour to stimulate use, and then measure the amount of chemicals that had leached into the water. Parabens were the most commonly leached chemical in this part of the study. Europe, China and Canada has restricted the use of BPA and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals, but there is still an argument in the U.S. over whether these chemicals pose a danger enough to warrant restricting use and cutting industry profits.
Exposure to any chemical or toxin is dangerous to human health but even more serious in infants and children as their body is not fully developed and chemicals have a greater potential for impacting their neurological, digestive and immune systems.
BPA has been linked to many health concerns as well in pregnant women, fetuses and young children. Some of these concerns in adults include structural damage to the brain, changes in gender-specific behavior and abnormal sexual behavior, hyperactivity, increased aggressiveness and impaired learning, early puberty, stimulation of mammary gland development, disrupted reproductive cycles, ovarian dysfunction and infertility, increased fat formation and risk of obesity and diabetes, stimulation of prostate cancer cells, altered immune function, increased prostate size and decreased sperm production, increased risk of high blood pressure and heart disease, breast cancer, preterm birth and reduced efficacy of chemotherapy treatment.
Limit your exposure when shopping for baby toys, food and other home products and choose those such as unfinished wooden teething toys, organic cloth teething toys, using glass baby bottles, storing your food in glass, eat mostly fresh whole foods, breastfeed your baby exclusively if possible, use glass containers to heat food in microwaves, be aware that even BPA-free plastics are just as bad as BPA, buy products in glass, check home tap water for contaminants, teach children not to drink water from the garden hose and be careful of cash register receipts. With these tips, we might limit our children’s exposure to these bad chemicals, as well as ourselves.
Dr Fredda Branyon