- What products have BPA?
- Recent state and federal actions
- 5 Ways to Reduce Your Exposure to Toxic BPA
- 6 Products BPA Is Used For That You Might Not Expect
- Products with BPA
- BPA in Consumer Products
- BPA in Commercial and Industrial Products
- BPA in Store Sales Receipts
- BPA in Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups
- BPA-Free Baby Bottles
Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a chemical used to make a hard clear plastic called polycarbonate, some sealants, and .
Most of us living in the United States have BPA in our bodies, but the human health effects are unknown. Our main sources of BPA are household products. Today, fewer products contain BPA than in 2010 because of efforts by Washington State, federal agencies and some product manufacturers.
What products have BPA?
BPA enters our bodies mainly through food and beverages that have been in contact with polycarbonate.
- Canned foods, because most metal cans are lined with a sealant containing BPA.
- Sports water bottles may contain BPA if bought before July 2012.
- Baby bottles, sippy cups and other containers designed for children 3 years old and younger may contain BPA if bought before July 2011.
- Baby pacifiers
- Other hard, clear plastic food or beverage containers. This symbol means it may contain BPA.
- Cash register receipts. Some manufacturers make “BPA free” thermal paper, but it’s often coated with a chemical called BPS. According to a 2014 report from the EPA, BPS may pose health hazards similar to BPA because the two chemicals are structurally alike and BPS is also easily transferred to skin.
- Glass and stainless steel containers with no plastic linings.
- Brick-shaped cardboard cartons (like juice boxes) used for food packaging. Cartons made by Tetra Pak or SIG Combibloc do not contain BPA. Look for those names on the bottom of the carton.
- Plastic containers labeled with a 1, 2 or 5.
Four reasons “BPA-Free” won’t protect you
BPA-Free Plastic Containers May Be Just as Hazardous
The concerns about BPA
Human exposure to BPA is widespread. A survey of the U.S. population found BPA in 93 percent of urine samples from people age 6 and older. 1
“… any level of exposure at all—may cause endocrine or reproductive abnormalities …”
A list of cans with, and without, BPA
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Toxicology Program agree that recent studies provide reason for some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children. 2
Reduce your exposure to BPA
Find tips to reduce infant’s exposure to BPA.
The best way to reduce your BPA exposure is to avoid household products that contain BPA.
- Eat fresh and frozen foods instead of foods stored in cans.
- Purchase foods packaged in glass containers, ceramic containers or cardboard brick-shaped cartons. Juice boxes are an example of a cardboard brick-shaped carton. Look on the bottom to see if it was made by Tetra Pak or SIG Combibloc.
Food containers already at home:
- Replace pre-2011 baby bottles, sippy cups, water bottles and other hard, clear plastic food storage containers. 3
- Throw away cracked or scratched plastic containers. Recycle them if possible (ask your local recycling program) or put them in garbage.
- Use glass or unlined stainless steel water bottles.
- Keep plastic containers labeled with a 1, 2 or 5; they do not contain BPA or other plastic chemicals of concern.
- Dispose of plastic containers labeled with a 7 inside the recycle symbol. Although not all 7 plastics contain BPA, it’s not easy to tell which contain BPA and which don’t.
Safer practices for food containers made of polycarbonate:
- Use polycarbonate plastic for cold storage and for non-food items.
- Heat food in glass, ceramic or stainless steel containers. In polycarbonate containers, heat leaches more BPA into foods and liquids.
- Wash polycarbonate containers by hand instead of in the dishwasher to prevent scratching. Scratching releases more BPA.
Safer practices for receipts:
- Wash your hands after handling receipts
- Consider putting gloves on before handling a lot of receipts
Recent state and federal actions
February, Washington Department of Ecology tested 74 products purchased from retailers and found that 96% did not contain BPA. Baby bottles, sippy cups, toddler containers, sports bottles and others were tested.
August, manufacturers of children’s products began reporting to the Washington State Department of Ecology if their products contained BPA, per the Children’s Safe Products Act.
July, sports bottles sold in Washington may no longer contain BPA.
July, the FDA issued a final rule that no longer allows polycarbonate resins in baby bottles and sippy cups. This decision was based on evidence that manufacturers of those products have already abandoned polycarbonate.
July, Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Design for the Environment program researched safer alternatives to BPA used in thermal paper receipts, in partnership with interested parties such as manufacturers, distributors and retail users. The draft report was published in July and the final report is anticipated by the Winter of 2013.
March, the FDA recommended taking reasonable steps to reduce human exposure to BPA in the food supply. In cooperation with other agencies, FDA plans additional studies over the next several years.
August, BPA was included on Washington’s Reporting List of Chemicals of High Concern to Children.
July, food and beverage containers intended for children under age 3 sold in Washington may no longer contain BPA. Metal cans with interior coatings containing BPA are exempt (i.e., may still contain BPA).
March, Washington State enacted Chapter 70.280 RCW, with a schedule for banning BPA from certain products
January, the FDA revised its position on BPA’s safety, noting “some concern” about its effects on children and infants. Previously, the FDA had held that trace amounts of BPA from food containers are not harmful.
- National Institutes for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)/National Toxicology Program (NTP): Since You Asked: Bisphenol A
- FDA: Bisphenol A Fact Sheet
- Washington State Department of Ecology: Bisphenol A
- Washington State Department of Health: Bisphenol A
- EPA Action Plan: Bisphenol A Action Plan Summary
1. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
2. U.S. FDA, Bisphenol A (BPA): Use in Food Contact Application
3. Before July 2011, some retailers voluntarily sold BPA-free products. If you know your plastic food containers are “BPA-free,” continue to use them. Otherwise, we recommend replacing them.
Convenient plastic products can be harmful to your family’s health.
If you are a parent of a young child or are expecting a baby, then you need to know about the dangers of “everywhere chemicals.”
Bisphenol-A (commonly known as BPA) and phthalates, which are called “everywhere chemicals” because they are so common, are used in making countless plastic products that we see and use everyday. This includes children’s items such as baby bottles, sippy cups, pacifiers and teethers.
BPA is used in hard, clear plastic, like baby bottles. Phthalates help make plastic, like pacifiers, flexible. It is believed that both BPA and phthalates can leach from plastic into food, liquid, and directly into the mouths of children while sucking on pacifiers or teethers.
Growing scientific evidence suggests BPA and phthalates may be associated with a variety of health issues, including hormonal and developmental problems. Infants and young children, who are vulnerable during early developmental years, are likely to be at potentially most risk from exposure to “everywhere chemicals” such as BPA and phthalates.
What is Bisphenol-A (BPA)?
BPA is used to make polycarbonate plastic, a shatter-resistant and clear material used in products ranging from plastic bottles and eyeglasses to sports safety equipment. BPA is also found in baby bottles, sippy cups, teethers, water bottles, food storage containers, and the lining of many food and beverage cans.
What are Phthalates?
Pronounced “THAL-ates,” phthalates make plastic soft and flexible, and are often found in car interiors, shower curtains, deodorant, cosmetics, and medical devices. Phthalates can also be found in children’s products such as toys, rattles, teethers, rubber ducks, bath books, baby shampoo, soap and lotion.
Why be worried about BPA and Phthalates?
BPA can leach from plastic containers into foods and beverages, especially when they are heated, or used for long periods of time. Also, when kids put toys, teethers, and other products that contain phthalates in their mouths, the chemical may leach from the product to the child.
Animal studies have shown that exposure to BPA can have developmental effects. There are no studies that show that BPA is associated with adverse effects in human development. However, because developmental effects in animals occur at BPA exposures close to those experienced by some people, the possibility that BPA may alter human development cannot be dismissed. In laboratory animals, exposure to high levels of BPA has been associated with adverse effects on reproduction. Some human studies suggest a possible effect of BPA on reproductive hormones, especially in men exposed to high levels in the workplace, but human data are not sufficient to determine if BPA adversely affects reproduction.
Animal studies have associated phthalate exposure with adverse effects on the liver, kidney, and male and female reproductive system, especially when exposures occur to the developing organism. For example, animals exposed to phthalates in the mother’s womb have shown decreased sperm activity and concentration, early puberty in females, and testicular cancer. Possible reproductive, developmental and other effects of phthalates in humans are the subject of much ongoing research. Phthalates have been detected in humans, but associations between the levels of phthalates found and effects in humans is currently inconclusive.
Tips to minimize exposure to BPA and Phthalates:
- Use refillable glass, porcelain and stainless-steel containers for food and beverages, particularly for hot foods and liquids.
- When you have something plastic, look at the little triangle on the bottom of the container. Avoiding plastic containers marked with a 1 or a 7 pc and instead choosing those marked with a 2, 4, or 5 will reduce the likelihood of exposure to BPA and phthalates.
- Glass baby bottles are recommended for babies who don’t yet feed themselves.
- For bottle feeding, since latex rubber nipples may contain phthalates, use of silicone nipples may reduce phthalate exposure.
- Do not use plastic containers in microwaves.
- To minimize exposure to phthalates, avoid vinyl toys, perfumed shampoo and lotion. Choose fragrance-free products whenever possible.
- Companies are now making baby bottles, food containers, teethers, shampoo, lotions, and other children’s items that are “BPA-free” and/or “phthalate-free.” Always read the package label or check with the manufacturer to know what you are bringing into your home.
For more information on Bisphenol-A and Phthalates visit:
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIH)
5 Ways to Reduce Your Exposure to Toxic BPA
EWG Tips Friday, February 9, 2018
No one disputes that bisphenol A, a toxic compound widely used to line food cans and other food packaging, is polluting people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found BPA in the urine of more than 90 percent of Americans sampled. In 2009, tests commissioned by EWG were the first to find BPA in the umbilical cords of nine of 10 infants sampled.
Because food packaging is the primary source of exposure, it stands to reason that BPA levels in our bodies are affected by what we eat and how that food is packaged. Although a new British study suggests that lowering your BPA level yourself through diet is not easy, there are some steps you can take to reduce your exposure.
BPA acts like estrogen in the body. It disrupts hormones, affects brain development and metabolism, and harms the reproductive system. Evidence suggests the developing fetus and young child are most at risk, but adolescents also appear uniquely vulnerable. BPA has also been linked to cancer, heart disease and other serious disorders.
The new study, by researchers at the University of Exeter and published in the journal BMJ Open, was the largest real-world study to date of the effect of dietary moderation on BPA in the body. It tracked 94 teenagers who for one week changed their eating habits and behaviors to try to avoid BPA in food packaging. While the researchers found no measurable effect on BPA levels in the overall group, they did see a reduction in BPA levels for the teens who started the trial with the highest levels.
Researchers speculated that the drop in BPA levels would have been more significant in a controlled setting. But the teenagers were going about their normal lives, and they reported it was hard to know what they could eat because BPA is so widely used and packaging containing BPA is so poorly labeled.
In 2012 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups. A year later, the agency prohibited it in infant formula packaging. But, like the British teens, for the rest of us avoiding BPA is still a challenge.
In 2016, EWG created a database of about 16,000 processed foods and drinks that might be packaged in materials that contain BPA. In California, products packaged in materials with BPA must carry a warning label on the package or store shelves.
As the food industry scrambles to find alternatives to BPA, concern has grown that without appropriate oversight, food companies will substitute similar chemicals or new chemicals that could be just as harmful or even more harmful. A National Toxicology Program study of 24 replacement chemicals found that many already in use are structurally and functionally similar to BPA, and, just like BPA, may harm the endocrine system.
Here’s what you can do to limit or avoid exposure to BPA:
- Substitute fresh, frozen or dried food for canned.
- Limit how many packaged foods you eat.
- For those who cannot avoid foods in BPA-lined cans, rinsing the food in water may help lower the level of BPA in the food. Bonus: Rinsing cuts back on other additives too, such as sodium on beans or sweet syrup on fruit.
- Never heat food in the can. Transfer it to a stainless steel pot or pan for stovetop cooking, or microwave in glass – not plastic.
- Search for your family’s favorite foods and beverages in EWG’s BPA product list. If they are packaged in containers made with BPA, look for alternative products in EWG’s Food Scores. Tip: Use the BPA-free filter function when searching.
The purported link between obesity and hormone-disrupting plastics chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA) was initially based in part on observations that the rise in chemical exposure seemed to coincide with the rise of the obesity epidemic, but that may only be a coincidence. Many other changes over the last half century, like an increase in fast-food consumption and watching TV, would seem to be simpler explanations. But why are our pets getting fatter, too? Fido isn’t eating more fries or drinking more soda. Of course, the more we watch Seinfeld reruns, the less we may walk the dog, but what about our cats? They’re also getting fatter. Are we giving both them and our kids a few too many treats? That would seem to be an easier explanation than some pervasive obesity-causing chemical in the environment building up in the pet and person food chains.
How then do we explain the results of a study of more than 20,000 animals from 24 populations, showing they are all getting fatter? The odds that this could happen just by chance is about 1 in 10 million. The study’s “findings reveal that large and sustained population increases in body weight” are occurring across the board, even in those without access to vending machines or getting less physical education in schools. Perhaps some environmental pollutant is involved. I discuss this in my video How to Avoid the Obesity-Related Plastic Chemical BPA.
We’re exposed to a whole cocktail of new chemicals besides BPA, but the reason researchers have zeroed in on it is because of experiments showing that BPA can accelerate the production of new fat cells, at least in a petri dish. This was at more than a thousand times the concentration found in most people’s bloodstream, though. We didn’t know if the same thing happened at typical levels…until now. Most people have between 1 and 20 nanomoles of BPA in their blood, but even 1 nanomole may significantly boost human fat cell production. So, even low levels may be a problem, but that’s in a petri dish. What about in people?
Why not just measure the body weights of a population exposed to the chemical compared to a population not exposed to the chemical? There is virtually no unexposed population: BPA is everywhere. In that case, how about those with higher levels compared to those with lower levels? This is what researchers at New York University did, and the amount of BPA flowing through the bodies of children and adolescents “was significantly associated with obesity.” However, since it was a cross-sectional study, a snapshot in time, we don’t know which came first. Maybe instead of the high BPA levels leading to obesity, the obesity led to high BPA levels, since the chemical is stored in fat. Or, perhaps BPA is a marker for the same kinds of processed foods that can make you fat. What we need are prospective studies that measure exposure and then follow people over time. We never had anything like that…until now! And indeed, researchers found that higher levels of BPA and some other plastics chemicals were significantly associated with faster weight gain over the subsequent decade. So, how can we stay away from the stuff?
Though we inhale some from dust and get some through our skin touching BPA-laden receipts, 90 percent of exposure is from our diet. How can we tell? When we have people fast and drink water only out of glass bottles for a few days, their BPA levels drop as much as tenfold.
Fasting isn’t very sustainable, though.
What happens with a three-day fresh foods intervention, where families switch away from canned and packaged foods for a few days? A significant drop in BPA exposure. If we do the experiment the other way, adding a serving of canned soup to people’s daily diet, we see a thousand percent rise in BPA levels in their urine compared to a serving of soup prepared with fresh ingredients. That study used a ready-to-serve canned soup, which, in the largest survey of North American canned foods, was found to have about 85 percent less BPA than condensed soups, but the worst was canned tuna.
I previously touched upon bisphenol A in BPA Plastic and Male Sexual Dysfunction. Some companies make canned foods without BPA, for example, Eden Foods. (See Do Eden Beans Have Too Much Iodine? for more information.) You can also buy aseptic packaged beans or boil your own. Personally, I like pressure-cooking them.
For more on BPA, see:
- BPA on Receipts: Getting Under Our Skin
- Are the BPA-Free Alternatives Safe?
- Why BPA Hasn’t Been Banned
Phthalates are another concerning class of plastics chemicals. I covered those in Avoiding Adult Exposure to Phthalates and What Diet Best Lowers Phthalate Exposure?.
Michael Greger, M.D.
PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:
- 2012: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death
- 2013: More Than an Apple a Day
- 2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food
- 2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet
- 2016: How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers
By Julie Thibodeaux
There’s been a lot of talk lately about bisphenol-A, better known as BPA. The industrial chemical used in the making of plastic since the 1960s has come under scrutiny for its potential harmful effects. Found in water bottles, baby bottles, utensils, dental sealants and register receipts, the chemical has been found to be an endocrine disrupter, linked to chronic diseases, including diabetes and asthma, and problems with reproductive function.
While the American Chemistry Council (ACC) continues to assert that BPA is safe, the FDA banned the use of BPA in bottles for infants in 2012, following similar bans in Canada and Europe.
In recent years, bisphenol-S or BSA has been embraced as a replacement for BPA. However, a study by Dr. Cheryl Watson, a University of Texas Medical Branch professor in Galveston, and graduate student René Viñas published in January, concludes that BPS appears to create the same problems as BPA. Watson said even low doses of this “xenoestrogen” were found to have an effect on animal cells.
“With these kinds of chemicals, low doses can actually have bigger effects than large doses,” Watson said.
The presence of both BPA and BPS is pervasive. A Centers for Disease Control (CDC) test of more than 2,000 people in the U.S. in 2003-2004 found BPA in the urine of 93 percent of participants. Likewise, a 2012 test conducted by the New York State Department of Health found BPS in 97 percent of urine samples taken from residents of Albany, New York.
So how can you lessen the risks associated with exposure to these chemicals? Here are common carriers and tips to avoid them:
• Plastic baby bottles. Controversy surrounding BPA in containers used by children has been brewing for years. When the U.S. banned the use of BPA in bottles for infants and cups for toddlers in 2012, major manufacturers of these items had already stopped using the chemical in order to boost consumer confidence.
Alternative: Until it’s clear the industry is using a safe replacement to BPA, switch to glass or stainless steel containers.
• Baby food containers. Some glass jars of baby food feature lids with epoxy resin liners, known to contain BPA. Some liquid formula is sold in metal containers with epoxy liners.
Alternative: Buy baby food in containers made of number 1 or 2 plastic. Formula sold in powder form is considered less likely to be infiltrated by BPA, even if it’s sold in a resin-lined can.
• Plastic food containers. BPA is used to make polycarbonate plastic, commonly used for reusable water bottles. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration, containers with the Resin Identification Codes 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 are unlikely to contain BPA. Some marked with number 3 and 7 may contain BPA.
Alternative: Use stainless steel or glass bottles to carry drinking water. Instead of using 5-gallon water bottles (the hard plastic jugs used for water coolers), switch to a water filter for the tap, or use glass jugs for filling up at water machines. Given the uncertainty that’s still looming over the safety of plastic containers, some people are switching to glass, stainless steel, paper and ceramic containers to store food.
• Canned food and drinks. BPA is known to be in the epoxy resin liners of canned foods and aluminum beverage containers. Studies have shown that the migration of BPA into the food may be higher for acidic foods, like tomato sauce. But there are many more foods being contaminated. According to a 2010 Breast Cancer Fund study, canned-food products with the highest levels of BPA are coconut milk, soups, meats, vegetables, meals (such as pasta dishes), beans, canned juices and canned fish. However, the study showed that even cans labeled BPA-free and alternative packaging such as Tetra-paks or polypropylene containers with epoxy-lined lids contained BPA.
Alternative: Use fresh produce over packaged foods. While only small amounts of BPA were found in soda liners, higher amounts were found in beer. Switch to glass containers for beverages when available.
For those who rely on canned foods for meal preparation, increasingly companies are looking for ways to rid their products of BPA. Eden Foods, went BPA-free in 1999 and has been using oleoresin, a mixture of oil and resin extracted from plants such as pine or balsam fir. Amy’s went BPA-free last year. Look for NB on the bottom of their cans, signifying non-BPA containers. Muir Glen is replacing BPA-based liners with food-grade vinyl, which has been used for packaging for more than 20 years. Whole Foods is working with suppliers to transition to BPA-free products.
• Heated containers. Heat can cause additional leaching of BPA when present.
Alternative: As a general rule, don’t heat food in plastic containers in the microwave. Use glass or ceramic containers containers. Don’t put hot food in plastic containers. The National Toxicology Program also advises against washing polycarbonate plastics (number 7) in the dishwasher using harsh detergents.
• Old dishware. Scratched or worn plastic can cause additional leaching of chemicals.
Alternative: Recycle worn or scratched plastic dishware.
• Utensils. Some utensils are made with a number 3 plastic that has been known to contain BPA.
Alternatives: Carry your own stainless steel or bamboo utensils when you go out.
• Eating Out. You don’t know how much of your meal’s ingredients came out of a can or how it was prepared.
Alternative: Eat fresh-prepared meals at home more often.
•Cash Register Receipts.
Many of these are coated with BPA. You won’t absorb it through your skin, but if your hands touch your food or mouth, you’ll transfer the BPA.
Alternative: Say no to receipts, or accept them by email, it’s the greener option anyway.
For More Information See These Sources:
6 Products BPA Is Used For That You Might Not Expect
When people think about products that have Bisphenol A, aka BPA, plastic water bottles and reusable food containers are probably the first couple items that come to mind. However, these aren’t the only culprits of BPA exposure, by a long shot. Though not everyone knows this, there are many other products where BPA is present — including a whole lot of other common goods that are made from plastics.
BPA has caught the eye of worried scientists and concerned consumers alike. Emerging research over the past decade has shown this industrial chemical — used in everything from plastic food packaging to personal care products — may expose people to a number of health risks. BPA is a compound used to harden plastics that behaves like the sex hormone estrogen. The main concern with BPA is that it can leech into foods or beverages consumed by humans through exposure to plastic containers. As Healthline reported, studies have found that, “due to its estrogen-like shape, BPA can bind to estrogen receptors, and influence bodily processes, such as growth, cell repair, fetal development, energy levels, and reproduction.”
However, other studies, like one large one conducted in rats published in 2018, have found that BPA’s health risks are minimal; moreover, other research has found that BPA replacements might have their own adverse health effects. The FDA currently still approves the use of BPA in food containers, writing on their site that they believe the chemical is “safe at the current levels occurring in foods.”
The truth is, even if you are actively trying to be more conscientious about the chemicals in the products you use, you’re still likely being sneakily exposed to BPA. Here are six non-obvious places BPA is present, so you can make more informed choices about what you buy.
1. Canned Soups And Pastas
Plastic containers are not the only place BPA is found in your kitchen. CNN reported a 2016 study found that high concentrations of BPA are found in soup and pasta cans, as well as fruit and vegetable canned goods. (It’s important to note that the study found no increased exposure to BPA in canned meats or fish.) In fact, the research confirmed that canned goods may be one of the largest risk factors when it comes to BPA exposure.
2. Store Receipts
Darren Hauck/Getty Images News/Getty Images
You might want to think twice the next time you ask for a copy of your receipt. A small study published in January 2019 estimated that 90 percent of purchase receipts, made of “thermal paper,” contained BPA. Further, while the Center For Environmental Health reported in 2016 that many major companies were opting to rid receipts of BPA, it was replaced with another chemical called BPS — which, like BPA, is an endocrine receptor that poses health risks.
Achim Aaron Harding/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Style, comfort, and UV protection are probably the three largest factors you weigh when picking out sunglasses, but searching for a pair that’s also BPA-free may be worthwhile. According to Vision Care Product News, lenses made from polycarbonate likely contain BPA. Experts are still unsure of how much exposure these sunnies can cause, since, of course, you’re not drinking water out of them. However, it never hurts to err on the side of caution.
4. Medical Devices
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images News/Getty Images
As MedPage Today reported in 2009, the FDA found BPA was commonly present in medical devices used during procedures. Though the research didn’t pinpoint the exact impact of this toxic chemical, they hypothesized that BPA exposure was likely higher in people who had routine procedures, and in procedures where the plastic devices containing BPA were heated.
5. Toilet Paper And Paper Towels
Chris McGrath/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Toilet paper, and paper towels — yes, even the eco-friendly recycled brands — may contain traces of BPA, according to a large study from 2011. However, the research also noted that a majority of BPA exposure from paper products still primarily comes from register receipts.
6. Boxed Wine
Peter Forest/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Boxed wine is a favorite among people who like their wine to be affordable and available in large quantities. However, as an article in Scientific American explained, “The bags are made out of #7 plastic. As more and more research comes to light, many environmentalists and public health advocates are warning consumers to avoid storing any food or drinks in containers made out of #7 plastic, as there is likelihood that BPA could be part of the mix.”
Completely avoiding BPA is close to impossible, at least as long as the chemical is cleared by the FDA. However, getting to know what products may contain BPA, and paying attention to labels on the plastic items you use, can help you steer clear of this potentially harmful chemical.
Products with BPA
Because it is so widely used, bisphenol A (BPA) has also been studied extensively. Polycarbonate and epoxy resins made with BPA have been thoroughly tested and deemed safe for use in food and beverage containers by regulatory authorities around the world.
Researchers worldwide from government agencies, academia and industry have studied the potential for BPA to migrate from polycarbonate products into foods and beverages. Likewise, they have studied the potential for BPA to migrate from various epoxy resin formulations into foods and beverages. These studies consistently show that migration of BPA into food is extremely low.
Polycarbonate is a type of plastic that is clear, lightweight, heat resistant, and shatter resistant. This unique combination of attributes makes polycarbonate an optimal material for a wide variety of applications, many of them involving direct contact with foods and beverages.
A consumer would have to ingest more than 1,300 pounds of food and beverages in contact with polycarbonate plastic every day for an entire lifetime to exceed the safe level of BPA recently set by U.S. government agencies.
BPA in Consumer Products
Protective and Corrective Eyewear
Polycarbonate protects eyes because it is extremely strong and difficult to break—especially important in eyewear and protective face shields for sports.
Polycarbonate lenses and visors are highly shatter-resistant and, because they are extremely light weight, they make thinner, lighter lenses that are comfortable to wear.
Compact Discs and DVDs
Optical discs such as CDs and DVDs, which are read by a laser, are made of polycarbonate. The polycarbonate layer plays an essential role by acting as a lens, focusing the laser beam so it can read the disc, similar to how reading glasses help focus the light for an eye to see clearly. And epoxy resins made with BPA are commonly used to make protective coatings and in such electronic parts as printed circuit boards.
Children’s (and Adult) Safety Equipment
While not widely used in toys, polycarbonate plastic is used in sports safety equipment such as bicycle helmets, shin guards and goggles for its shatter-resistant properties.
BPA is used to make strong, shatter-resistant polycarbonate plastic that provides a clear view of food in durable and heat resistant containers that are reusable and help keep food fresh.
BPA in Commercial and Industrial Products
Epoxy resins made with BPA are high-performance polymers used in many marine protective coatings to shield the hulls of ships, offshore oil drilling platforms, water ballast tanks and cargo tank linings. BPA also is used to make powder coatings used to protect steel furniture, metal roofing and garage doors, automotive parts and gardening tools and equipment.
Polycarbonate plastic provides manufacturers with best-in-class performance and the durable material often used in electronic equipment housing units, including cell phones, laptops, tablet computers, PDAs, electronic game consoles and handheld computer gaming units. The strength of polycarbonate helps prevent the housing units from breaking and polycarbonate films help prevent scratches on the screens.
BPA in Store Sales Receipts
Some thermal paper receipts can contain BPA as a component of the heat sensitive coating that allows for inkless printing. This paper technology provides speedy, reliable and cost-effective printing.
A recent investigation of the safety of thermal paper receipts containing BPA by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency concluded that these products are safe for consumers. According to the Danish agency, “the receipts do not pose a risk to consumers or cashiers who handle the receipts. Even if they are pregnant and even when taking into account the amount of BPA that also comes from food.”
We know a great deal about how the human body processes minute exposures to BPA from testing human volunteers, and available data suggests that BPA is not readily absorbed through the skin. Additionally, biomonitoring data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control shows that total consumer exposure to BPA, which would include exposure from receipts, is extremely low.
BPA in Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups
On July 17, 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revised its regulation on food-contact use of polycarbonate plastic to exclude baby bottles and sippy cups. This action, which was requested by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), brings certainty to consumers that BPA is no longer used to manufacture these products.
This action was not based on any finding or concern that these products are unsafe. Because manufacturers who make these products for the U.S. market no longer were using BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups, there was no practical need for industry or government officials to spend further time and effort on a matter that was not relevant in the current marketplace.
BPA-Free Baby Bottles
The consensus of government regulatory bodies around the world, including the U.S. FDA and the European Food Safety Authority, is that BPA is safe for use in food-contact materials, including products such as baby bottles and sippy cups. However, manufacturers of baby bottles and sippy cups announced several years ago that due to consumer preference they had stopped using BPA in these products and FDA’s action provides certainty for consumers. For more information on BPA safety, click here.