After recently watching the eye-opening and informative documentary, ‘Tapped’, which focuses on the high health and environmental costs the bottled water industry is having on our modern lives, it made me consider the inherent trust we put in to the array of plastic children’s toys and parenting products available on the market, that we so willingly hand to our children everyday. Have you ever considered the number of plastic products you have in your baby’s nursery? Baby bottles, artificial teats, soothers, pacifiers, teethers, sippy cups, feeding bottles, toys just to name a few.
‘‘So what’s the big deal?’ I hear you asking. BPA, or Bisphenol A, is an industrial chemical building block used to make polycarbonate plastics and resins, commonly found in plastic water bottles and cups, infant feeding bottles, water coolers, reusable storage containers, lining of food cans and cartons (including infant formulas), water pipes, dental sealants and even in our cash register receipts. In the US more than 2.3 billion pounds of the stuff is manufactured annually. Polycarbonate plastic is generally considered shatterproof, which is one of its major benefits within the industry. However, over recent years, concerns regarding its potential health risks have continued to rise, despite the FDA’s initial approval of the endocrine-disrupting chemical, which alters the function of our body’s natural hormones. Research has linked the chemical to obesity, type II diabetes, liver, heart, ovarian and uterine disease, abnormal development of reproductive organs, miscarriage, reduced birth weight, reduced sperm count, increase in hormonally influenced cancers such as breast and prostate cancer, brain development and behavioral problems such as ADHD and autism. The list is endless! Frederick Vom Saal of the University of Missouri-Columbia, who has contributed a decade of research in to low dose BPA exposure, states that this type of plastic ‘maybe one of the most potent, toxic chemicals known to man’. He believes that the effects of BPA exposure can occur even at very low levels. He tested a dose 25,000 times lower than anyone had ever tested before, and found that even these levels ‘profoundly damaged every single part of the male developing mouse reproductive system’. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Vom Saal and Peterson Myers, the average American is exposed to more than the 50 micrograms per kilogram daily dose of BPA that federal environmental regulators consider safe, and that there are particular concerns for unborn and newborn babies. Vom Saal warns that babies likely face the highest exposure in human populations because both baby bottles and infant formula cans leech BPA. The chemical leeches in to our food when exposed to hard use, repeated scrubbing, washing either by hand or dishwasher, boiling, or by introducing hot foods or liquids. When exposed to hot foods or liquids BPA leeches out 55 times faster than it does under normal conditions, according to Scott Belcher, University of Cincinnati. Just think over its lifetime, how many times you boil and sterilize your baby bottles. In 2008, Canada became the first nation to announce it would ban polycarbonate baby bottles over BPA related health concerns. In 2009 Denmark also banned the use of this substance in baby bottles, and now within the States Connecticut, Massachusetts, the city of Chicago, Wisconsin, Washington and New York have also followed their lead, having passed legislation outlawing the chemical from being used in food and drinks containers. The FDA states it will not issue a ban on this substance, despite admitting that it has ‘some concerns’ regarding the effects on brain development in children and babies. For years the FDA has dragged its heels and denied the effects of BPA, despite mounting evidence, which indicates that the chemical leeches in to our food. The chemical industry argues that unless BPA is proved to have ill effects, it should continue to be manufactured and used, as it is cheap, lightweight and shatterproof. However, the FDA did not look at studies from independent sources, it looked at 2 studies put forward from the chemical industry itself and based its opinion solely on this data. The National Institute of Health reviewed 700 peer review published studies on BPA and 38 internationally recognized scientists issued a consensus statement in the Journal of Reproductive Toxicology, stating their extreme concerns regarding the impact of this chemical on human health. Many manufacturers have taken their own initiative and have responded to the publics’ outcry over BPA concerns, by removing the chemical from their products, and noting on their labels, ‘BPA-Free’. Wal-Mart have already removed BPA from their packaging, and Eden Foods have started using BPA free cans. Many scientists are now advising that if clear bottles or canned foods are a must, they should never be micro-waved, used to store heated liquids or foods or washed in hot water either by hand or by machine. To avoid plastics labeled with numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5 and 7 on the bottom, and that a safe alternative to polycarbonate plastics water bottles or baby bottles are stainless steel, porcelain or glass.
To read other related articles, click on the links below…
FDA’s current perspective on BPA
Plastic (not) fantastic:Food containers leech a potentially harmful chemical-Scientific American
BPA may inhibit pregnancy-Discovery News
BPA exposure may be associated with wheezing in children-Science Daily
Chemical in plastic bottles raises some concern-Science Daily
Endocrine inhibitors: Babies absorb the most Bisphenol A-Science Daily
A warning by key researcher on risks of BPA in our life-Environment 360 interview
New warning about chemical in plastic-The Telegraph
BPA ban in EU baby bottles in 2011-FDA Lawyers Blog