Bisphenol A, or BPA is an estrogenic (estrogen producing) compound found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Things that are clear plastic typically will be made of these polycarbonates and contain BPA. Examples include baby bottles (until recent regulations in some states), protective eyewear, plastic water bottles like the ones used in water coolers or that you would take on a bike ride, plastic wraps, and in food packaging. In 2010, the pouches and films your food comes in was a $21.3 billion industry in the U.S.. Of that $7 billion was from BPA sales, which sold over 6 billion pounds.
BPA is a toxin that affects sperm and eggs, suppresses the immune system, leads to prostate and breast cancer, diabetes, obesity, early sexual development in girls and disrupted reproductive function, decreased sperm count and other fertility problems, earning and behavioral problems (including hyperactivity), abnormal heart rhythms, and coronary artery disease, just to name a few. Those most risk are the unborn, so age-bearing people should be especially cautious.
In a 2009 Consumer Reports study, BPA was found in 19 name brand canned foods. The worst offenders were Del Monte Fresh Cut Green Beans, Progresso Vegetable Soup, Campbell’s Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup. Other foods such as juices and tuna were also found to have high levels of BPA.
The substance was developed in 1891 as a plasticizer, and in 1963, was classified as generally regarded as safe (GRAS). This designation is what exempts it from F.D.A. scrutiny. However, the F.D.A. does NOT get a free pass here. in 2008, the F,D,A, declared BPA as safe, only after receiving a $5 million donation from Charles Gelman, a BPA-containing syringe and medical filtration device manufacturer. Not surprisingly, the F.D.A. failed to disclose the generous donation, but was exposed in other reports.
In 2010, the F.D.A. stated that it now has, “some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children.” There are pushes to re-classify BPA as a “food contact substance,” which would give the F.D.A. more regulatory power and let it act more quickly if it needed to do so. It has even been brought up in Congress.
Dr. Mercola, a natural health expert, has come up with 10 ways to limit your exposure to BPA and protect yourself and your family:
1. Boycott plastic shopping bags. Use reusable canvas or cloth varieties instead. (This also applies to the plastic produce bags in the grocery store.)
2. Store your food and beverages in glass containers, NOT plastic.
3. If you choose to use a microwave, don’t microwave food in plastic containers.
4. Stop buying and consuming canned foods and drinks (the can linings contain plastic chemicals.)
5. Avoid using plastic wrap altogether.
6. Replace your plastic dishes and cups with glass varieties. Never drink your coffee or tea from a plastic cup.
7. Avoid using plastic cups, utensils, dishes, and food storage containers. There are some containers being labeled “BPA-free,” so keep an eye out for those if you choose to use plastic.
8. Avoid drinking bottled water. Instead, filter your own water and put it in a glass bottle.
9. Before allowing a dental sealant to be applied to you or your children, ask your dentist to verify that it does not contain BPA.
10. Use only glass baby bottles and dishes. Use cloth diapers instead of plastic. And give your baby non-plastic toys, like varieties that are made of fabric.
Finally, here are a few of my own rules:
1. If you have to open a package or can to eat it, avoid it. Your health is worth far too much to risk it in the name of convenience.
2. If you do eat something you had to open, read the label. If you can’t pronounce EVERY ingredient and explain what it is to the person next to you, throw it away.
3. If God made it (if it grows and can be picked), you can eat it. I know some of you will challenge me and say God made everything, but you know what I mean. Also, there are risks of pesticides, etc, so buy organic where possible. Food cooperatives or growing your own is the safest, but most of us don’t have the time or resources available to do that.
We only get one body. Let’s take care of it!