Most parents know to avoid BPA and feel good about doing so. By the same token, did you know that that ‘BPA Free’ labels might actually be exposing you to other similar chemicals that are just as bad (if not worse) than BPA?
WHAT IS BPA AND WHY IS IT BAD
BPA stands for Bisphenol A. BPA is used to produce clear, shatter-proof, hard plastics known as polycarbonate (7 in the recycling code). Polycarbonate plastics are used for lots of things, including- food storage containers, baby bottles, sippy cups, water bottles, as well as some toys. BPA can also be found in food and beverage canned linings and in thermal store receipts.
Once inside your body, BPA behaves like the hormone estrogen. Even at very low doses, BPA exposure has been linked to a number of adverse health effects, including- breast and prostate cancer, early puberty, lowered sperm count, infertility, miscarriage, obesity, behavioral problems and diabetes. BPA is especially dangerous for small children and the developing fetus. Children do not metabolize and excrete BPA as quickly and efficiently as adults. In addition, BPA can pass from the placenta to the fetus with ease if the pregnant mother is exposed to the chemical.
IS ‘BPA FREE’ A GOOD ALTERNATIVE?
BPA is one of the most studied and worse endocrine disrupting chemicals on the market. There is no doubt that this is one chemical that you should be avoiding. So, it would seem natural that seeking out ‘BPA Free’ labels would be a step in the right direction, right?
Not really. Unfortunately, the US has not taken steps to ban nor decrease the use of BPA in the country, (although some states have passed local legislature banning the chemical in baby and child products) nor to regulate ‘substitute chemicals’. However, many major retailers and companies have responded to consumer pressure and have eliminated BPA-based plastic in baby bottles and toys. Thus, the emergence of the ‘BPA Free’ labels. The problem is that, if you take out BPA, you have to replace it with something else. That replacement chemical is either very similar to BPA and not safer at all or has no long term studies proving it is safe to use. The most popular alternative to BPA in “BPA-free products”, bisphenol S is just as bad as BPA, as it also mimics estrogen and causes the same ill effects associated with BPA. BPS has specifically been linked to altering brain development and causing hyperactive behavior. BPS is so prevalent today that it has been found in 81% of Americans - no doubt people thinking they were purchasing less toxic products by choosing BPA free.
HOW TO AVOID
As parents, your best line of defense is to avoid products that could contain BPA or any similar chemicals: