Because of a wide range of health problems associated with BPA, today’s consumer knows that they should try to avoid bisphenol-A in their daily lives. Having imposed bans on the use of BPA in baby bottles, many companies have voluntarily substituted alternatives for the petroleum-based plasticizer, which research has now linked with everything from birth defects of the male and female reproductive systems, to cancer, attention deficit disorder, and even asthma. As evidence continues to mount on the dangers of BPA many of us feel it is imperative to eliminate products containing BPA. But does “BPA free” really mean safe?
Now that products are flooding the market claiming to be “BPA free”, a parent may wonder what chemicals have replaced the BPA in their baby’s plastic bottles. What parents should know, is how little we do know comes right from the manufacturers themselves. Because the Toxic Substance Control Act relies primarily on information supplied by the materials manufacturer, it’s permissible to launch a large volume production of new material without disclosing its precise chemical identity or any toxicity information. It’s pretty much “an anything goes” when it comes to chemicals used in consumer products. We really know very little about these new plastics labeled “ BPA free”. Right now BPA is in the limelight but there is also bisphenol S, AB, AF,B, BP, C , F, G M, P PH TMS and Z. Any of these bisphenols can be lurking in plastics. Many countries require testing on plastics looking for the banned chemicals BPA and phthalates but are not testing for chemicals that have estrogenic activity. So how is it that the consumer is protected when the chemical that replaced BPA may be even worse!? We really can’t be sure of any plastic unless it’s been evaluated for specific effects, like the scrambling of hormone signals induced by BPA.
Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health, and the National Toxicology Program in Research Triangle Park, N.C. emphasizes the point that “different isn’t always better”.”When we move to alternatives,” she said, “I think it’s important that we test the alternatives to make sure we’re not going to do the same thing or something worse than the compound we’re removing.” Until more testing is accomplished and sufficient data emerges, it’s simply premature to label so called ”BPA-free” plastics safe from estrogenic activity.
So what is a concerned parent to do? If you’re interested in avoiding any number of chemical toxins that can leach into your baby’s food, glass is one of the best alternatives.
Approximately 1500 new chemicals are introduced each year. Dealing with environmental toxicity is a fact of life in today’s world. It is also a fact that infants and children are more sensitive and more easily harmed than adults. Unfortunately completely eliminating the exposure of BPA, BPS and similar plastic toxins is highly unlikely because these chemicals, like many others in our environment today, permeate our air, water and food. But by making informed choices we can dramatically reduce our exposure. To bring about change the most important thing is information. Being choosey on what you buy forces companies to remove unsafe chemicals in the foods and products we use daily.
Environmental Science &Technology June 7, 2012
Toxicol In Vitro. 2012 Aug;26(5):727-31
Environmental Health Perspectives March2, 2011 (Epub Ahead of Print)
The Atlantic April 13, 2011
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health