What is BPA?
BPA or bisphenol A, is an industrial chemical that is used to make certain resins and plastics. First synthesized in 1891, BPA didn’t become relevant until the 1950’s when the plastic industry experienced a rapid revolution in the manufacturing process.
BPA is commonly found in food containers, aluminum cans, hygiene products and plastic bottles because of its strong and resilient properties. However, an increasing number of companies are opting to eliminate it from their manufacturing process for certain products do to safety concerns.
While the impact BPA has on your health is hotly debated, there is reasonable evidence that has given many scientists cause to be alarmed. BPA appears to mimic the structure and function of estrogen and other hormones, which can affect the production, secretion, function and elimination of natural hormones in the body.
A study published by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 2013 found that BPA exposure can interfere with maturation of eggs in the female body, upon further research scientists also found that exposure can impact the endocrine system. This can be linked to infertility, breast cancer, prostate cancer and other reproductive issues in both men and women.
The nightmare doesn’t stop there though, researchers have also found evidence that even a low level of BPA exposure can lead to cardiovascular problems such as: angina, hypertension, heart attack, heart disease and more! While also increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes because of its contribution to insulin resistance.
BPA’s suspected negative effects don’t stop at adults either, environmental exposure to BPA has the potential to alter DNA, impact brain and organ development in fetuses as well. This can lead to issues with social behaviors, anxiety, asthma and estrogen regulation once the child is born.
Though these findings are probably making you think about throwing all packaged goods in your house out, currently the National Toxicology Program and Food and Drug Administration believe there is no need for concern because the amount of BPA that leeches into products is so small.
What about soaps?
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but yes, even your soaps have BPA in them. Frequently, soaps and sanitizers leech BPA from their plastic containers, this can change the permeability of your skin and can actually increase the absorption of BPA into your system and harm your health!
Is BPA bad for the environment?
While the effects BPA has on the environment are also controversial, scientists have discovered that it has contaminated water supplies and has negatively impacted aquatic life. Because BPA easily leeches into water, it is a worry amongst some scientists that it could accumulate in prey species and could make its way up the food chain-impacting the endocrine systems of animals who consume them.
While this is a valid concern for many researchers, others feel that their worry in unfounded. This is because the amount of BPA present in the environment is minimal and has not yet been found to accumulate, meaning that currently it does not pose any threats.
How to avoid BPA
- Avoid foods packaged in plastic- Because BPA is ubiquitous in food packaging, most of our exposure to it comes from our diet. A recent study found that after avoiding packaged foods for just three days, BPA levels went down by 66 percent in humans!
- Cut back on cans- BPA levels were almost 1,221 percent higher in individuals that ate a serving of canned soup daily
- Don’t bring the heat- Plastic breaks down when exposed to heat, if you have plastic bottles or other containers: don’t microwave them, put hot contents in them or leave them in the sun.
- Use alternatives- Use glass porcelain or stainless-steel containers for beverages and food.
- Keep it off your skin- Use a non-plastic container to hold your personal care items, the best way to ensure that you are avoiding plastic packaging is to either make them yourself or refill them!
No refill stations near you? Is that an option that sounds appealing? Big business doesn’t believe that you are serious about keeping plastic and the chemicals in it out of your life. Prove them wrong and take a stand by signing the petition below to tell retailers that #WeWantRefill and make refill a possibility in stores near you!