BPA Update: Examining the Plastic Debate 1 Year Later

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Creative Commons License Photo credit: How can I recycle this

By now, most people have now heard of BPA (or bisphenol-A), the chemical found in polycarbonate plastics. BPA is most often founds in clear, hard plastic water bottles, food containers and baby bottles (when in doubt, BPA is found in number 7 plastics). As of April 2008, BPA has received considerable press attention for health and safety concerns. Canada is the first country to ban the import of baby bottles that contain BPA. Furthermore, in October of last year, the Canadian federal government added BPA to its list of toxic substances.

The reason? BPA mimics the hormone estrogen. Over the years, estrogens and estrogen mimickers are becoming increasingly prevalent in our society. Common causes include dairy and meat growth hormones, hormones from birth control pills being released into the water supply and polycarbonate plastics. Even certain foods, such as soy, can mimic human estrogen, causing a rise in hormone levels in the body. Harmful to both men and women, BPA exposure has been linked to insulin resistance, obesity and infertility. BPA has also been linked to abnormal growth in breast, uterine, ovarian and prostate cells, which may lead to cancer. Infants are especially sensitive to such chemicals, explaining the ban on BPA baby bottles. The plastic industry, of course, denies such claims.

However, even those who support the use of BPA explain that plastics made from BPA should be used carefully. For example, they should not be frozen or heated at high temperatures. This is extremely difficult, though, when infant bottles are meant to have milk heated inside them. Also, may people bring their plastic water bottles on a hot day, or leave them in a hot car. These actions further the release of the toxins into the water, to be ingested.

Although the recent concern over BPA is due to safety concerns for humans, the chemical is also dangerous to the ecosystem. An environmental pollutant, BPA is also harmful to the reproductive systems of fish and other marine life. Indirectly, plastics are well known to stay in landfills for hundreds of years or pollute oceans.

Since the media spotlight on BPA, some companies have made wonderful changes. On the other hand, many big-name brands haven’t done much. Perhaps the most remarkable change is the opportunity for small companies that catered to (previously) niche markets of stainless steel and glass products to become mainstream. Still, the hype for “BPA free†everything has resulted in confusion over what “BPA free†truly means.

Water Bottles

The most BPA confusion has resulted from the water bottle industry. Since 2008, companies such as Mountain Co-op and Lululemon voluntarily removed water bottles containing BPA. Retailers like Starbucks, however, continue to sell number 7 plastic containers for hot and cold beverages.

As far as plastic alternatives go, not all metal bottles are created equal. Aluminum bottles (such as SIGG) may be lightweight, but they are always coated with a thin plastic layer. There is much controversy regarding how safe the plastic lining is, and whether it may contain trace amounts of toxins.

To avoid these controversial plastics, choose bottles made from 100% food grade stainless steel with no plastic lining. Stainless steel is non-toxic, durable, easy to clean and does not rust. Also, make sure that the plastic used for the lid is BPA free. Good examples include Klean Kanteen, Green Bottle, Purica and Bilt.

Tin Cans

Many people don’t know that the lining of tin cans contain BPA. However, since most people use tin cans more often than water bottles, they’re more of a concern than previously thought. As well, most food is heated at extremely high temperatures before being packed in cans, increasing their BPA content. There are very few brands of canned products that are not lined with BPA. Over the past year, many companies has expressed interest in using BPA free cans, but have not made the switch yet.

Eden Organics has been producing BPA-free canned products since 1999. Instead, they line their cans with “Oleoresinâ€, an expensive but naturally-derived oil and a resin mixture. Their line includes delicious canned beans, tomatoes, rice, lentils and chili.

For other BPA free alternatives, opt for dried soup mixes, and products such as pasta sauces in glass bottles. When cans are unavoidable, refrain from heating the cans and use the product as soon as possible, since the lining leaches more BPA over time. Keep in mind that BPA breaks down and leaches into food faster in the presence of fatty foods like fish, and acidic foods like tomatoes.

Food Storage

Replacing Tupperware with BPA free alternatives has never been easier. Preserve brand plastic food storage containers are made from recycled number 5 plastic, and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Of course, Pyrex glassware is a dependable staple for food storage and cooking.

Baby Bottles

There have been substantial gains in the baby bottle industry. As mentioned, baby bottles that contain BPA were banned in Canada. The company Born Free offers glass bottles that are growing in popularity. For those who prefer plastic bottles that have less chance of breaking, Green to Grow bottles are made from recycled material, dishwasher safe and BPA lead, phthalate and PVC free. Still, there is a long way to go, since many “BPA free†plastic baby bottles were recently found to contain trace amounts of the chemical.

Thus, the past year has opened up a lot of discussion in the BPA debate, and no doubt there is much more on the way. I appreciate any discussion on the topic, whether you agree or disagree, or if you know of more bisphenol-A alternatives I haven’t mentioned.  


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Leah
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Guest Andrew Molson

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Man, the cr** some of these companies try to pull just makes me want to break some heads...

Good to see that people are becoming more aware of BPA, though

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Guest RandyMack

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Just another tool of globalists depopulate the world. The CBC did a documentary called "The Disappearing Male" everyone should watch. Lord Bertrand Russell, Carrol Quiggley, and all of the other great eugenicists spoke of secretly using chemicals to help reduce the unwashed masses from procreating. Al Gore openly supports their agenda and even belongs to the group that openly admits they made up and fabricated Global Warming, the Club of Rome.

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Guest KN Singer

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What about PET? I hear that recent research in Germany is revealing that PET, which is marketed as a "safe alternative" to BPA and is in most of our water bottles etc., is actually turning out to have similar sorts of problems. Anyone know anything about this, or can point me in the right direction?

Thanks!

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Guest phoenixlifeinsurance

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Boy, yeah water bottles are one of those inventions that you sometimes wish was not invented. People can buy reusable containers.

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Guest Simon Leufstedt

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To be honest I don't have much knowledge about this plastic debate so I am thankful for your posts Leah.

Those SIGG bottles (manufactured before August 2008) that are so popular among environmentalists seems to contain Bisphenol-A (BPA). :(

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If BPA is proven to be so harmful(I really don't know whether it's harmful or not), why hasn't it been banned in USA?

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Guest jogging double stroller

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Plastic are really harmful if not properly dispose. I'm just wondering why not introduce a plastic that is environment-friendly?

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Guest jogging double stroller

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Plastic are really harmful if not properly dispose. I'm just wondering why not introduce a plastic that is environment-friendly?

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BPA (or bisphenol-A) is the harmful chemical found in polycarbonate plastic.That cause a number of bad effect on this planet.Many countries ban thus plastic containers.We should stop using this harmful thing to save us and our environment.

Event Planner

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Guest Twin Stroller Reviews

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Thank you for keeping us updated. It is true that plastic bottles can increase the risk of having cancer because of the toxic bottle that mixed on the content inevitably.

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BPO? c'mon guys you can't be serious... there are more car accident fatality and flu deceases other than the toxicity level of this age old debate... example a beer can has BPO, so which content is more destructive =effect=container=content=? tin packaging canada

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Guest Jennifer Meyers Graham

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In my opinion, I understand your concerns, but only a small fraction of Tupperware products contain BPA. A meal with canned foods (that contain BPA in the can’s liner) that baked in Pyrex leaches just as much BPA as microwaving in plastic products that contain BPA. Folks choose a Trusted Brand like Tupperware because it’s shatterproof, versatile, colorful, keep food fresh longer and it has a Lifetime Warranty! The majority of Tupperware does NOT contain BPA! Pyrex can shatter or chip off into food, become harder to clean, it’s heavier, it may not keep food as fresh and it may not be convenient for Little Jimmy’s lunchbox! If you use canned foods, dental sealants, costume jewelry for kids than you are exposing your kids to BPA. Experts feel that canned foods is the #1 source to exposure to BPA. If you use certain types of Lipsticks, toys and jewelry you open your family to risk of lead exposure. If you drive a car with vinyl seats, you are exposing your children to PVC carcinogens, which have already been banned in over 14 countries. The BEST advice I can give, is think about what your family's needs are and think about which choices will truly benefit your family. I LOVE TUPPERWARE and I choose to buy Tupperware for Versatility and Life Time Warranty, but I steer clear from the small fraction of BPA Products they offer. As a concerned mom, it's in our best interest to do everything we can (within reason) to safeguard our children. I have a flyer that I give folks who are concerned about BPA plastics. Less than 10% of Tupperware sold Worldwide contains BPA. Tupperware’s website states “starting in March 2010, they began to use other materials for non-children's products that had been made from polycarbonate for sale in the U.S. and Canada.†I wouldn't boycott Tupperware, rather just be aware of which pieces contain BPA. Any reputable Tupperware Consultant (such as myself) can offer you a list of which products contain this chemical. Boycotting all plastic products because a few contain BPA would be like boycotting ALL cars because a few had emission problems. The best way we can change the future for our children is to contact our government at all levels and demand these harmful chemicals to be banned! My website is : www.plasticparties.com If you contact me, I'd love to de-bunk some myths & educate you on OTHER chemicals and products that contain harmful chemicals for your family! Even if you choose not to buy plastics, I will gladly share my information! Knowledge is power. The more knowledge you have from other sources, the more educated you become!

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Guest Mikesac AirConditioners

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There has to be serious consideration of the use of the plastic bottles so that there is a healthy6 environment around.The earth is polluted and clogged by the same.There are many centers also where they can be rcyled therefore care should be taken firstly not to use them and if used to recylce them as long as possible.

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