What is BPA?
Bisphenol-A (or BPA) is a synthetic chemical that is used in a range of plastic food and drink packaging, CDs, mobile phone cases, glasses, dental sealants, medical devices and even till receipts! Concern is growing as conditions such as obesity, heart disease, infertility, diabetes, cardiovascular problems and recurrent miscarriage have all been linked to BPA by various scientific studies.
Production of BPA has increased by 500% in the last 30 years, and over 3 billion kgs of BPA are produced every year. It’s no wonder then, that BPA is now found all over the planet. However, this is really bad news! Due to its chemical structure, the bonds that hold BPA in place are not stable. This means it can easily leach into food and drink, rub off on hands and absorb through the skin. Worse still, is that exposure to UV light (the sun), high temperatures (think lunchboxes in the microwave – eek!) and acidic conditions (e.g. in a tin of tomatoes) increases the amount leached. BPA is so prolific that it’s now found in urine, sweat, breast milk, brain tissue, fat tissue, and even placental tissue!
Why should you avoid it?
Manufacturers making and retailers selling BPA products claim it’s safe to use due to ‘low levels’, however evidence suggests that BPA is harmful at any level. Lab experiments show BPA is able to transform normal cells into cells of a more cancerous or malignant nature. With particularly concerning results from studies on exposure to BPA in the womb and during early life showing an increased susceptibility to tumours. As BPA is a synthetic oestrogen (acting as a hormone in the body would), it is able to influence how our genes and cells behave. Because mammary tissues are primed to respond to oestrogen to develop and grow, they bind more easily with BPA – a significant amount of scientific evidence shows a strong link between BPA and breast cancer.
Obesity, heart disease, infertility, diabetes, cardiovascular problems and recurrent miscarriage are all conditions that have been linked to BPA. Because of these concerns and growing evidence, BPA was banned in baby bottles and products back in March 2011. However, it continues to be used in a huge range of other food and drinks packaging. Many charities such as Breast Cancer UK are rallying the EU Food Safety Authority’s to prohibit use of BPA in all food and drink packaging.
How can you avoid it?
It’s easy to dismiss these concerns and bury your head in the sand, until one of your close friends or family are affected by disease or illness. Then everything becomes more real and you start to take note. I’d like to invite you to treat yourself with love and care, and pay attention to the products and plastics you use on a day to day basis. There are many more brands labelling their lunchboxes etc as ‘BPA free’ which is hugely helpful, so it’s fairly simple to take steps to reduce your exposure. Plastic containers containing BPA are labelled with the recycling number 7, so be sure to avoid this. If you do need to buy plastics, go for plastics labelled 1, 2, 4 or 5.
To help protect yourself and your family, try to use alternatives such as steel, glass and ceramic. There are more and more companies making cute products such as water bottles and lunchboxes. I’ve taken to washing out old jars as storage containers which is great as you can chuck them in the dishwasher too!
One of the main culprits for BPA packaging is water bottles. These are great alternatives:
Brita Water Filter Bottle – www.brita.co.uk
24Bottles – Stainless Steel with BPA-free plastic caps buy here
S’Well Steel Water Bottle – Proceeds of sales go to Unicef buy here
I hope you feel inspired to take steps to reduce your exposure to everyday toxins such as BPA 🙂
To your health,