What is BPA? A dangerous toxin hiding in unsuspecting places.

What is BPA? A dangerous toxin hiding in unsuspecting places.

What is BPA? If you are a new parent you may have noticed more “BPA free” labels on packages for baby bottles, sippy cups, or toys and wondered what it was. For some years now there has been a lot of concern about BPA  in plastic baby bottles and canned foods. Studies have suggested a link with BPA to both breast and prostate cancer. It’s also been linked to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, behavior problems and reproductive disorders (like miscarriage and birth defects). This chemical is a known endocrine (hormone) disrupter. In other words: BPA is bad stuff. 

Of course, the food and chemical industries continue to press forward and insist that the science has not proven BPA is a health hazard. Like GMOs, it’s another cruel science experiment where we are the test subjects. Lucky us.

What is BPA?

So what is BPA? Bisphenol-A is a chemical that is primarily used in the production of plastics. Products using BPA have been in commercial use since 1957. At least 3.6 million tonnes (8 billion pounds) of BPA are used by manufacturers yearly. (source)

BPA is also used to make linings of food cans which forms a protective barrier between the metal of a can and the food. Exposure to BPA is widespread, with detectable levels found in more than 90% of the U.S. population (source).

What is BPA? A dangerous toxin hiding where you'd least expect it.

Public concern over BPA

As you can imagine, more people are asking “What is BPA” and horrified when they realize just how prevalent this chemical is. A 2010 report from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned of possible hazards to fetuses, infants, and young children. In September 2010, Canada became the first country to declare BPA a toxic substance.The European Union, Canada, and recently the United States have banned BPA use in baby bottles. (sources 1, 2, 3, 4)

Some good news…

A 2011 study showed that dietary intervention can decrease levels of BPA exposure. 20 participants in five families switched from a canned and packaged food diet to a “fresh food only” diet for three days. Urine levels of BPA metabolites decreased significantly during the fresh foods intervention. A good reminder why real fresh food is so important. Staying away from canned and packaged foods can help decrease your levels of BPA drastically.

Some bad news…

Unfortunately, BPA is lurking in a lot of places these days. In fact, you may be surprised by some of the hidden sources of BPA. It’s very unlikely that you will be able to avoid all BPA in today’s world, but knowing where it is can  help you make some simple changes and keep your family’s levels as low as possible.

In other words, it’s not just important to ask “What is BPA?” You need to know where it is found.

7 Hidden Sources of BPA

What is BPA? A dangerous toxin hiding where you'd least expect it.

1. Canned Goods

Most canned goods are lined in epoxy resins that contain BPA. The chemical can easily leach into the food. Soup, vegetables, beans, tuna, and fruit all seem particularly likely to have traces of the chemical.

What to do about it? Eat fresh food as much as possible. Consider canning your own food (in glass jars) during the harvest months. When canned food must be used, look for BPA-free cans whenever possible.

What is BPA? A dangerous toxin hiding where you'd least expect it.

2. Plastic

Plastic bottles, containers  toys, sippy cups… we are surrounded by plastic. And the BPA found in them can be harmful. Now days there are a lot of “BPA Free” options for many plastic products. But beware, these plastics are often still using other toxic chemicals.

National Public Radio (NPR) aired a story on a study released from Georgetown University, PlastiPure, and CertiChem (a chemical testing company). In the study these companies tested more than 450 plastic products, including many labeled BPA free, and found that more than 90 percent of the plastics (even those that were BPA free) released chemicals that mimic estrogen (the same claims against BPA).  They found that sometimes the BPA free products released chemicals having more estrogen activity than BPA-containing products. (source)

What to do about it? Consider more eco-friendly options for your kids like these stainless steel cups or wooden toys. Switch to glass containers. Keep in mind that plastic water bottles are often laced with BPA, too. If plastic is your only option, avoid putting hots foods in these containers, and do not microwave plastic ever.

What is BPA? A dangerous toxin hiding where you'd least expect it.

3. Receipts

Receipts printed on thermal paper can have traces of BPA, according to a study published last September in the journal ”Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry.” And thermal printing isn’t just used in receipts. It’s also used for things like movie tickets.

What to do about it? The easiest way to avoid BPA from receipts is to just not take one. If that’s not an option, your best bet is to minimize your contact with the paper and make sure to thoroughly wash your hands before putting your fingers in your mouth or handling food. 

Children are especially susceptible to BPA since their bodies are still developing. I personally don’t let my child handle receipts, and I always wash my hands as soon as possible after I do.

4. Baby Food Jars   

The inside of the lids often contain BPA.

What to do about it? Consider making your own baby food or doing Baby-Led Weaning. It’s a healthier option for your child on a number of levels.

5. Dental Sealants

The sealants dentists use to protect teeth from cavities break down into BPA when in contact with saliva. That’s the word from scientists at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

What to do about it? The sealants are considered safe for kids, for whom they’re most popular. And the exposure disappears a few hours after the sealants are applied. But researches at Mount Sinai advise pregnant women to steer clear. I personally would just say “no” and make sure to eat a real foods diet to avoid cavities

6. Toilet Paper

A recent study in Denmark indicated that toilet paper might have traces of BPA. Toilet paper is often made from recycled paper, which often contains BPA.

What to do about it? This may be one of those instances where you just have to relax and let it be. For the truly diligent you can find some other options, otherwise just be sure not to use toilet paper for anything but what it was designed for.

7. Beer and Wine

If alcoholic beverages are fermented in BPA lined vats they can become contaminated with the chemical.

What to do about it? For my family this is a no-brainer, as we don’t drink. But if you do, consider doing a little research into your options and find wine that hasn’t been fermented in plastic-lined vats.

What is BPA? A dangerous toxin hiding where you'd least expect it.

Remember: progress not perfection

“What’s BPA?”
“Where is it hiding?”
“What can I do about it?”

These are the questions that more people need to ask.

Sadly, this list doesn’t even cover all the hidden sources of BPA. Our world is full of garbage that our bodies are trying to learn how to deal with. It’s so easy to get overly anxious about all the hidden toxins in our world today. Trust me, I get it. The important thing is to stay informed and continue making progress toward a more healthy life. Baby steps, my friends. Stay the course and you’ll be amazed at how far you can go over time without freaking out.

Tell me, what’s your next step toward toxic-free living?

Additional Sources:
http://www.3fatchicks.com/8-hidden-sources-of-bpa/
http://www.cbsnews.com/2300-204_162-10005021-8.html
http://live.happybottomus.com/hidden-sources-of-bpa/
http://green.thefuntimesguide.com/2010/07/bpa_receipts.php
http://www.care2.com/greenliving/bpa-found-on-cash-register-receipts.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisphenol_A

This post is part of Wow Me Wednesday, The Mommy Club, Healthy 2Day, Real Food Wednesday, Party Wave Wednesday, Tasty TraditionsCreative Juice Thursday, Simple Lives ThursdayFreaky FridayFight Back Friday, Small Footprint FridayAnything Goes Friday, and Frugal Days Sustainable Ways.

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NOTE: Due to an never-ending cesspool of spam, I have made the tough decision to close comments 14 days after the original posting of all posts. Sorry to anyone left out of the conversation. I just needed to spend less time monitoring spam and more time with my kids. Best wishes, Robin!


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About the author

Hi! I'm and I’m passionate about healthy living: feeling nourished, having energy, getting good sleep, and feeling strong. I believe healthy living does not have to be complicated or stressful. I’m a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) and a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA). I’m also an avid researcher and love to read about nutrition, the body, and toxic-free living. Learn more.

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26 comments

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  2. Peggy

    I have known about BPA for a few years now, but I find that the general population still doesn’t know anything about it. Thanks for posting this informative and important article!

  3. ConcernedChemist

    Since, 2009, all domestic produced tuna cans by Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea and Starkist do not have BPA.
    Since 2010, all infant formula cans do not have BPA.
    As of last year, many can producers have converted to non BPA cans. They can’t advertise due to confusion of imported SKUs versus domestic.
    Bottom line; just because the can doesn’t have a BPA free label means that it has BPA. Buy American.


    1. Post author
      robin

      It’s true. But so often the alternatives for BPA free packaging are just as dangerous, just newer and not as well known. Whenever possible I suggest trusting materials and products that have withstood the test of time. Avoid as much processed food as possible, eat fresh food, and enjoy life. :)

      And yes, buying American is good, too.

  4. Lori Popkewitz Alper

    Thanks very much for covering such an important topic. I agree with you, it is important for all of us to be informed and make good choices based upon the information we have. BPA is frightening, but I’m also concerned about the alternatives. Baby steps is the only way to get through all of this. Thanks for the link.


    1. Post author
      robin

      It’s true… some of the alternatives are just as scary but people think it’s better because “well, at least it’s not BPA.” This is why, whenever possible, it’s best to use materials and products that have withstood the test of time. :)

  5. Carol

    I was really surprised to learn that even BPA free plastic containers can be worse. I’m still working on limiting my use of plastic.


    1. Post author
      robin

      Me too, Carol! We still have some plastic in our home, but we’ve come a long way over the past couple of years. Baby steps, right? :)

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  8. Susan

    Hello! I am so happy to have found your blog. I’ve been battling health issues since I was 19, and can’t say enough about how diet and exercise are critical to our well-being. It is a constant battle staying on top of all of the “junk” out there that is harming our bodies, but we have to do it! I have a health and fitness section on my blog, and would love to refer my readers to your website. I will be sharing this on my FB page today as well. Thank you for your hard work, and for the wealth of information that you share with us!


    1. Post author
      robin

      So glad you found me, Susan! Thanks for stopping by and best wishes in your journey. Hopping over to check out your blog now. :)

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  10. David

    I read this blog article from start to finish and agree with the point that external chemicals introduced in any way to the body are harmful. However, this article is so full of conjecture, inaccuracy, and opinion, which totally discredits it.

    I am very familiar with BPA and have done quite of bit of research on the topic. The main inaccuracy that I must mention is the note on “Plastics”. There are very few plastic materials that contain BPA. I would challenge any study saying this as well. The picture you have chosen to represent the plastics are polypropylene containers, which do not contain BPA. You base the blog article on BPA, only to quote a Study that notes other chemicals were found. What do you think plastic is?To say trace amounts are found is absurd. Trace amounts of chemicals are found in your drinking water and food. Why make such a big deal about BPA? Also, receipts and toilet paper are often made from recycled resources, which can easily transfer chemicals.

    I challenge you to do more research before posting blogs like this. Know that the baby bottle industry has almost all moved away from polycarbonate and maybe even understand usages in healthcare, food and beverage, etc.

    Words like “might”, “may”, and “study’s suggest” don’t provide any validity to statements. BPA is just as much as perception as anything. Someone said they think it is bad, so a platform was found (baby bottles), and off it went. There are studies the support both angles and extensive testing completed. Put a little more thought before “frightening” your friends on the internet world.


    1. Post author
      robin

      “BPA is just as much as perception as anything.” Talk about opinion. There are ample studies that have shown the toxicity of BPA. And unfortunately, even many “BPA-free” plastics have simple replaced BPA with other less-known toxins. I’d go into more detail, but this comment has absolutely nothing credential to back it up, so I will leave it at this.

      1. ConcernedChemist

        Actually, the studies that are showing toxicity of BPA to humans (well specifically mice) are through injected delivery methods. The BPA therefore skips the whole “metabolizing” process.

        Studies conducted through feeding, are actually showing no adverse affects. These are what EFSA and the FDA and even Health Canada (reversing it’s previous position) are basing their legal stances on.

        It would be nice for the author to provide the “evidential” studies that demonstrate “consuming” BPA directly relates to any health issue.

        There’s plenty of posted work(thru NCBI and the NIH) that demonstrate a significnat reduction in estrogenic activity after metobilzation for BPA.
        The last decade’s tirade by vom Saal is slowing approaching the “di-hydro oxygen molecular is fatal when commonly available thresholds are exceeded and it’s use should therefor be banned” level.

        I, and my family, will never inject BPA into our blood.

        1. Helen

          Standing up clapping. THANK YOU! I am so tired of feeling like no matter what I do, I’m harming my children. Balance in all things and someone with some common sense actually READING the studies instead of sharing info they get from other bloggers.

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  13. Bethany

    My dentist special orders BPA free Sealants and Composites for fillings, so maybe ask your dentist what they use :)

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