A few years ago we became more familiar with Bisphenol A (BPA) with the removal of this chemical in baby bottles. Since this time, I have slowly been learning more about this substance. Although nearly impossible to avoid and at times overwhelming, we are trying to limit our exposure. In short, here is what I have discovered.
Bisphenol A is a chemical used to make polycarbonate plastic. This plastic is light, clear and can withstand higher levels of heat. It is leached into your food when the plastic container is heated or overused.
BPA has been linked to breast cancer, prostate changes, liver damage, decreased sperm count and has been suggested to mimic female hormones. When tested, children have displayed higher levels of BPA due to their increased exposure to plastics, immature organs and low body weight. According to Girls on Edge by Dr. Leonard Sax, the amount of BPA in our girls bodies is also causing early onset of puberty.
While reading Slow Death by Rubber Duck by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie, I learned that printer ink used in newspaper also contains BPA. Since newspaper often ends up being recycled, many substances made from recycled paper will have high levels of BPA, one for example is pizza boxes.
BPA is not only found in plastic food storage containers but pop cans, tin cans, kitchen appliances, bottled water and carboys (the large jugs for water coolers.) Aside from the kitchen, BPA is used to make CDs, DVDs, eye glass lenses, cash register receipts and the faces of computers or mobile devices.
Ways to avoid or lessen the amount of BPA:
- avoid canned foods
- avoid heating any food in plastic containers, transfer foods even those bought in “microwave or oven ready dishes” into glass or ceramic
- never put plastic containers in the dishwasher but rather wash by hand, the detergents will increase the amount of BPA that escapes into your foods
- avoid drinking any hot beverages in a plastic cup
- whenever possible, avoid taking the receipts from your purchases
- avoid plastic number 7 which is found on the bottom of most plastic containers, do note that although no plastics are necessarily good for you, the numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5 do not contain BPA.