It seems as though BPA, bisphenol A, is in the news again. A resent Harvard study recruited 77 students to partake in a study looking at the amount of BPA present in their urine after drinking cold water out of a plastic bottle. As a beginning flush each student was given a week "wash-out" period where they only drank water out of a stainless steel bottle and an initial urine concentration of BPA was obtained. The following week they were only allowed to drink cold water out of two refillable polycarbonate bottles. Urine samples were again taken and compared to beginning values. It was shown that in the week the urine level of BPA increased by two-thirds. This study was done using cold water, what would the concentration of BPA in the urine be if hot liquids were being consumed from the plastic bottles?
This study is very timely as states are passing or organizing bans to remove BPA out of baby bottles and sippy cups. On May 22, 2009 the Connecticut House of Representatives approved a ban on the sale of plastic baby bottles, food containers or cups that contain BPA. This ban has already been through the Connecticut Senate and is just waiting to be signed by the governor. When signed the ban would take effect in 2011. This is not the first ban in the US, rather earlier this month Minnesota banned BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups. These bans are a good start to removing BPA from our children's lives but what can we do as the consumer to limit our own interaction with BPA and why is BPA so bad for us.
Let's start with the health impact of BPA. An animal study proved that BPA interferes with reproductive development and in human studies the chemical has been linked to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. BPA is a chemical that mimics estrogen, which is a sex hormone used throughout women's bodies. Estrogen is also found in men and increased levels of estrogen in their bodies can lead to gynecomastia, enlarged breasts. For women the concern is what role does increased estrogen play in breast cancer and in normal monthly menstruate cycles. It might be too early to tell all the lasting effects of BPA into our diets, however it is never too late to take steps to reduce your children and own exposure.
It has been shown that 95% of baby bottles sold in the US contain BPA. According to the US FDA and the European Union BPA is safe, yet in 2008 Canada banned the usage of BPA in baby bottles. Preventing exposure can be done by avoiding plastic bottles. Drink your water out of stainless steel or glass bottles. If you are going to use plastic bottles or plastic containers do not heat your food/liquid in them. Avoid using harsh detergents or scouring pads on them and avoid using foods that come in containers lined with polycarbonates.
More in-depth information about the Harvard study can be found on the website for the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
Resources : Science Daily