By now, you may have started seeing labels on plastic containers and aluminum cans that read “BPA-free.” Or maybe you’ve heard the news stories recently of BPA exposure in pregnant women being tied to asthma in children.
Seeing labels like this and seeing news stories raising concern, you may be wondering what exactly BPA is and what it can do to your health.
What is BPA?
Scientifically speaking, BPA stands for Bisphenol A and is a synthetic compound. It is used in the formation of plastics and epoxy resins. Plastic is a cheap material that can be molded, and epoxy resins are used essentially as coating in products as an adhesive.
What products can you find BPA in?
BPA is known to be found in plastic containers, beverage bottles, and aluminum cans. Extra products which have been found to contain BPA are sales receipts, sports equipment, and discs such as CDs and DVDs.
Does it cause health issues?
This is a complicated question to answer, because of the back-and-forth debate on whether the current levels of BPA used in products is safe.
The U.S. Federal Drug and Food Administration (FDA) has conducted studies on the use of BPA, and has found no significant problem with the chemical at the levels currently in use.
On the other hand, studies separate from the FDA have been done that prove otherwise, suggesting BPA can cause issues such as cancer. Separate studies have also suggested that the use of BPA can cause issues in young children, one of these issues being asthma.
The FDA has had similar results in their own studies on the effects of BPA on infants and young children, therefore there are rules against using BPA in baby products.
Despite this, there is still the issue on levels of BPA in the mother as her child is still a fetus. Studies separate from the FDA have shown that certain BPA levels during pregnancy could be a cause to wheezing in children.
Like most products, this is an issue that has its proof for both sides. One side says it doesn’t cause health issues. The other side suggests it does.
Here is my take on both sides:
Side For BPA: Most products and most things can cause health issues; it’s a matter of regulating your use of these products and finding creative ways to alternatives.
Side Against BPA: In the U.S. a product is allowed onto the market until it is proven unsafe, rather than the reverse that a product would not be allowed onto the market until it is proven safe.
The best thing to do as this debate over the use of BPA in products continues, is to limit your use of products that contain BPA.
Instead of drinking from water bottles, drink your city’s tap water as long as it’s safe to drink. If you don’t like the taste of tap water, then buy a water filter. If you need something portable to carry your water in, purchase a glass water bottle.
Avoid buying canned foods, even if the container says it’s BPA-free. An example of a way to do this is instead of buying canned beans, buy dried beans. Stores such as Whole Foods offers options to pour your bags of beans yourself. There you may run into the issue of having to fill up a plastic bag, so when you get home pour the bag of beans into a glass jar, and wash the beans before using them. Another way to do this is to buy fruits and vegetables fresh instead of from the can.
It isn’t expected to completely stop eating canned food, but if trying to avoid BPA, the best thing to do would be to eat fresh. If you are going to purchase canned food, then it would be best to opt for the cans labeled BPA-free.
The same thing goes for frozen food that comes in plastic containers. If you are going to purchase frozen food, be sure to take it out of its plastic container before heating up. Opt for microwaveable ceramic plates when heating food in the microwave.
When it comes to food storage, quit buying plastic containers. Store food in glass jars and glass containers.
Glass water bottle
Fresh fruits & vegetables
BPA-free canned food (if still planning on purchasing canned food)