What is Bisphenol-A and what is it used for?
Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a chemical building block that is used to make polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. It’s commonly used in clear, hard shatterproof plastic containers, as well as in coatings on food and drink cans. BPA is used to make a whole range of products, from drink bottles and baby bottles, dental fillings and eyeglass lenses, to sports equipment and medical devices.
What’s the problem with BPA?
It’s an artificial oestroegen, and as such, is an endocrine disrupter. This means that in late pregnancy, for example, the hormones that are critical to brain development and the baby’s development as a whole, can be messed about by these foreign chemicals.
BPA has been linked to a range of other medical issues, too, including chromosomal and reproductive system abnormalities, impaired brain and impaired brain and neurological functions, cancer, cardiovascular system damage, adult-onset diabetes, early puberty, obesity and resistance to chemotherapy.
What is being done about BPA?
Canada declared BPA to be a toxic substance in September 2010, and BPA is banned for use in baby bottles in the European Union, Denmark and the United Arab Emirates. Malaysia is due to ban BPA in baby bottles starting shortly, and China has also announced that it will no longer be using BPA in baby bottles, although there is no start date set for this yet. In the US, 10 states have imposed bans on the use of BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand say they have no plans to ban BPA in Australia and New Zealand.
How do I avoid BPA?
Use alternatives to plastic, including glass, ceramic, silicone and stainless steel.
Avoid canned food and drink (that includes beer – switch to bottles!)
Know your plastics. Check the numbers and avoid plastic #3 (PVC) and clear plastics marked #7. Not all #7 plastics contain BPA, so check the packaging.
Environmental Working Group: http://www.ewg.org/chemindex/chemicals/bisphenolA
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