There has been a lot of concern lately about the safety of a chemical called bisphenol A (BPA), which is present in many plastics and other household goods. Researchers are still trying to figure out whether BPA is linked to miscarriage and other health problems, and there is heated debate on the matter. No government body has made any recommendations to limit exposure to bisphenol A, but many experts are concerned -- particularly about evidence of possible effects on neural and behavioral development in children. Here are some things you can do to limit your exposure if you are worried about the safety of BPA.
Limit your use of plastic drinking bottles. If possible, avoid them altogether.
When you do use a plastic water bottle, do not re-use it multiple times -- toss it into the recycle bin instead. Exposing plastic to heat (such as when you clean the bottle in hot water) causes it to release more bisphenol A.
Don't heat food in hard plastic containers. Choose ceramic or glass dishes instead. (Again, heat can release more BPA from the plastic)
Avoid canned foods unless you have researched their bisphenol A status. Popular industrial canning methods often use BPA and lead to the presence of small amounts of bisphenol A in the canned food. Canned pastas and soups appear to contain the highest levels of the chemical.
If you are attempting to limit a child's exposure to bisphenol A, research any plastic toys that may be inserted into a young child's mouth and opt for glass baby bottles or other non-plastic drinking cups. Bisphenol A can also be present in the lids of some brands of jarred baby food.
A good guideline for reducing BPA exposure is to avoid plastics that are marked as polycarbonate and have the number 7 of the recycling label. This is a general rule, however, and not all of these products will contain BPA.
Clear, hard plastic may contain bisphenol A, but cloudy colored and soft plastics should not.
Keep in mind that it is unrealistic to eliminate your exposure to BPA entirely, and remember that this is still a much-debated issue. There is no consensus that normal levels of bisphenol A exposure pose a risk.
Environmental Working Group, "Consumer tips to avoid BPA exposure." 2007. Accessed 5 Sept 2008.
Jenkins, Renee R., AAP President, Letter to Barbara Shane of NTP Board of Scientific Counselors. 23 May 2008. Accessed 9 Sept 2008.
National Toxicology Program, "Since You Asked - Bisphenol A." Accessed 5 Sept 2008.
University of Cincinnati, "Plastic Bottles Release Potentially Harmful Chemicals (Bisphenol A) After Contact With Hot Liquids." ScienceDaily 4 Feb 2008. Accessed 5 Sept 2008.