BPA and Health

plastic bottles

The days of the ubiquitous plastic water bottle are rapidly fading. Once the symbol of healthy (if not exactly environmentally friendly) living, concerns over the health effects of a substance called BPA has led many people to avoid these plastics -- and some governments to ban their use in food and beverage related products. Switching to BPA-safe bottles and containers is a smart move for anyone looking to avoid the myriad negative health effects this substance has been linked to in recent years.

What is BPA (Bisphenol-A)?

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a primary component in the manufacture of epoxy resins and polycarbonate plastic. Epoxy resins are commonly used to line the inside of food and beverage containers, such as soda cans. Polycarbonate plastic, on the other hand, is characterized by its clarity and shatter resistance, making it ideal for the creation of CDs and DVDs, sporting equipment, plastic magnifying lenses for eyeglasses, and a variety of materials used in the dental and medical fields. That most of us have existed in close contact with these substances over our lifetimes is a given -- what remains to do now is identify which of these is directly harmful to our health, and make smart choices now about how to minimize contact with BPA. Choosing BPA-safe bottles or containers for food or beverages is one clear way to avoid the negative health effects of this substance.

How to Tell if Plastic is BPA-Safe

There are seven types of plastics recognized by the recycle code on the bottom of plastic containers. The types to avoid are type 3 and type 7. Some of the others may contain small amounts of BPA, but the likelihood is much less and these should be regarded as BPA-safe.

Health Effects of BPA

BPA is an endocrine disruptor, and it plays havoc with the body’s naturally occurring hormones. While there are few definitive and absolute findings in the areas of BPA research so far, widespread testing is recent years has led to the suggestion that BPA might be linked to a tremendous assortment of health issues, everything from cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, to neurological issues, hyperactivity, and attention deficit. Most of the concern has been centered on the health effects of BPA on children and developing fetuses, as they seem both most susceptible to the chemical, and also the most exposed through use of plastics to feed and store food and beverages. Finding BPA-safe baby bottles, sippy cups, and other containers should be of paramount concern to parents, as the apparently wide-ranging negative impact on health is certainly ominous enough to make a little extra forbearance the only responsible reaction.

Switch to BPA-Safe Containers Today

While so much of the research into the effects of BPA is still in its early days, in 2009 The Endocrine Society issued a strong statement of concern over BPA’s uses in products in the food and beverage industry. Switching to BPA-safe products now, especially BPA-safe bottles for children, is the prudent and sensible thing to do. The information is out there, and it is foolish to expect the government or other regulatory body to keep you safe. It is only through our own informed initiative and choices that we can protect ourselves and our children.