• Taviene Kessler

What is BPA and why are we avoiding it?

You’ve heard about it. You’ve seen it on product stickers. You know that something being ‘BPA-free’ is probably a good thing, but what is BPA and why are we avoiding it?

Here’s the technical part.

BPA stands for ‘Bisphenol A’ and is an additive commonly used in the making of certain household plastics and resins such as drink bottles and containers, as well as drinks/food with a long shelf life since the 1950s.

While the scientific community is still investigating the link between BPA products and potential for harm to human health, here’s what we know.

It can transfer into food and drink

The making of plastic food containers has become a lot safer and more sophisticated, but not all materials can be completely sealed into the plastic or canned items during their manufacturing. This means that small amounts can potentially leak when they come into contact with food and drink which is then consumed by us.

It closely resembles the estrogen hormone

BPA is a similar shape to the estrogen hormone which can send the body into a bit of confusion when it enters our system. BPA can bind to estrogen receptors and disrupt their usual functions and cause issues such as infertility, prevent cell development, breast cancer, endometriosis, and possible links to hypertension.

BPA exposure levels are high

When you piece together how many products you consume from plastics or materials containing BPA, the list might get lengthy. A study in 2019 showed that the initial levels of BPA found in the average adult’s system may actually be up to 44 times higher than reported, raising concerns over whether companies are doing enough to protect consumers from exposure.

BPA’s replacements may also be harmful

Many manufacturers’ answer to going BPA-free was a compound chemical named ‘BPS’ or ‘Bisphenol S’. Unfortunately, recent studies suggest BPS (often found in plastics, thermal paper, cans, and medical devices) poses just as much risk to our health as BPA. Studies have indicated that BPS can also be linked to endocrine diseases, positive breast cancer cells, and impaired neural function, raising the question of whether it’s a suitable alternative to BPA, or fighting fire with fire.

Ways to avoid BPA and BPS

Fortunately, a simple answer to reduce our levels of exposure to both BPA and BPS is to find ways to avoid it altogether such as:

  • Replacing your plastic storage containers and water bottles with glass or stainless steel

  • Opting to avoid taking receipts

  • Reading the labels of food and drinks to avoid both chemicals

  • Use BPA/BPS-free baby bottles

  • Avoid microwaving plastic containers made from polycarbonate

  • Replace plastic with better substitutes as much as possible (which is more environmentally friendly!)

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