BPA Free: Why is it important?

Most of you reading this know about BPA by now, or have at least heard about it and are aware of the bad buzz surrounding this unfriendly chemical. Numerous products nowadays list “BPA-Free” on the labels. This can offer a sigh of relief and one less thing to worry about for mothers or health-conscious individuals.

What is BPA? BPA is the abbreviation for Bisphenol A. In chemical terms it is an organic compound with two phenol function groups. Forgot your organic chemistry? More simply put, BPA was first synthesized by a Russian chemist in 1891 and is used primarily to make plastics, most of which have been in commerce since 1951. Currently, manufacturers use at least 8 billion pounds of BPA annually!

 

Where is BPA found? BPA can be found in baby and water bottles, sports equipment, medical and dental devices, dental fillings and sealants, eyeglass lenses, store receipts, CDs and DVDs and household appliances.

It can also be found on the inside of food and beverage cans, in packages, and in the lining of water pipes. Most plastic products will contain a recycling symbol with a number inside, on the bottom of the container or lid. The products with the numbers 1,2,4,5 and 6 are least likely to contain BPA. Products with the recycling numbers 3 and 7 may contain BPA. More specifically, the recycling number 7 is often used as the catch-all “other” category and is the most likely to contain BPA.

Why is BPA bad for us? Since the 1930’s, BPA has been known to be estrogenic. This means it has an effect of estrogen. The consequences have been documented in several human and animal studies. A study published in the September 2008 Journal of the American Medical Associated found “higher BPA levels were significantly associated with heart disease, diabetes and abnormally higher levels of some liver enzymes.” Other studies have associated higher BPA levels with miscarriages, externalizing behaviors in two-year old children (including aggression and hyperactivity), altered hormone levels and declining sexual function. Therefore, for humans and animals, the health detriments are becoming more widely recognized and known in recent years.

• In 2010, Canada was the first country in the world to declare BPA a toxic substance. Currently, BPA is banned in baby bottles in the European Union and Canada.

• In Japan, between 1998 and 2003, the canning industry voluntarily replaced their cans lined with BPA with a BPA-free substitute in many of their products. Schools in Japan replaced the plastic utensils with those that are BPA free. As a result, a dramatic decline of BPA in blood levels of Japanese people was found (50% in one study).

• In March 2009, the six largest companies who make baby bottles decided to stop using BPA in their products. Also, Suffolk County, New York banned baby beverage containers containing bisphenol-A. • On March 13, 2009 leaders from the House and Senate proposed legislation to ban BPA. • In May 2009, Minnesota and Chicago were the first US jurisdictions to pass regulations limiting or banning BPA. As of Jan. 1, 2010, it is illegal to sell any children’s products that are not BPA-free, namely sippy cups and bottles.

• In June 2009, Connecticut was the first US state to ban BPA from baby food and infant formula containers and reusable beverage and food containers.

• On March 29, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared BPA a “chemical of concern”.

• In April 2011, the Maine legislature passed a bill to ban the use of BPA in baby bottles, sippy cups and other reusable food and beverage containers, effective January 1, 2012. The Governor of Maine, Paul LePage has been quoted as saying “”There hasn’t been any science that identifies that there is a problem” and added: “The only thing that I’ve heard is if you take a plastic bottle and put it in the microwave and you heat it up, it gives off a chemical similar to estrogen. So the worst case is some women may have little beards.” Governor LePage refused to sign the bill.

• In April 2011, Maryland has passed legislation to ban BPA in infant formula and baby food packaging that contains more that 0.5 parts per billion (ppb).

 

What you can do about BPA and how to reduce it in your environment:

• Buy products that are BPA-free for yourself, your family and even your pet.

• Write a letter to your local legislators and infant formula companies urging them to consider reducing and banning BPA in any products for pregnant mothers, infants and children.

• Use less canned goods-choose glass and cardboard containers over cans.

• Do not microwave food in plastic containers or use plastic wrap to cover food in the microwave. • Choose plastic or glass bottles for beverages. Canned sodas and juice often contain BPA. For drinking water, stainless steel or glass is best. Although most plastic water bottles are made with recyclable plastic that is BPA free, be on the lookout for plastic bottles with the code 7 on them as they most likely will contain BPA.

• If using infant formula, use powdered formula versus already mixed liquid formula. You can also look for companies that produce formula that use BPA free cans, like Baby’s Only Organic. The Environmental Working Group has great information about infant formulas as well as other products, body care and cosmetics.

• Use glass baby bottles or BPA free bottles, like those from Born Free and Green to Grow. Warm the baby bottles in a pan of hot water.

• Breastfeeding is the best alternative when at all possible to ensure that your baby is getting the best nutrition possible from the start.

 

Sources: About.com http://environment.about.com/od/healthenvironment/a/bpa_tips.htm
Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisphenol_A
The Baltimore Sun http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2011-05-02/news/bs-ed-bpa-20110502_1_bp…

Links: BPA free Products on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/tag/bpa-free/products
Environmental Working Group (love this website!!) http://www.ewg.org/reports/infantformula
Local Harvest www.localharvest.org- here you can find your local farmer’s markets
Natural Baby Pros www.naturalbabypros.com (started here in San Diego by local moms that I know)

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