If there is one three letter word that’s going to cause an uproar, it’s BPA. Known by its scientific name as Bisphenol A, it’s a toxic chemical compound that has been used during production of everything from canned foods to paper receipts. Government agencies may claim that there is nothing to worry about, the evidence that is presented in a variety of studies tells us a different story – we should be worried.
There was previously huge protests to remove BPA from baby bottles, plastic toys and plastic sippy cups, and this was a success. The more aware we become about what we put into our bodies, the more we are fighting back and demanding that our health is placed above the cost of packaging production.
California has made headlines with the decision to add BPA to the Proposition 65 list of chemicals that have been proven to cause harm. It’s this movement that means that all products that are known to contain BPA that exceed the safety threshold. Unfortunately, this was short-lived as the chemical industry fought back and had BPA removed – after one week.
Why Is BPA Worrying?
The awareness that is growing in the community about how our packaging is made is helping to ensure our health, and as BPA is an industrial chemical found in a lot of everyday products, it’s hard to keep up with what to avoid. The issue isn’t so much that the products have BPA, it’s that BPA can leach out of these products and into the water, food and even skin of the person holding it. Tests that were conducted by the CDC show that over 90% of Americans have BPA in their bodies – and this is dangerous.
Side Effects of BPA
The side effects of BPA can affect you in more ways than you think. This is a toxic chemical, and it has been linked to reproductive issues, neurological problems, immunity issues and leads to an increased risk of other conditions such as:
- Childhood asthma
- Metabolic diseases
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cardiovascular disease
If you’re wondering whether these are real concerns, the number of people refusing to use products with BPA should confirm it. BPA is a soluble material, and this means that if it touches liquid, the bond it has with the plastic can break. BPA can then leach into the food or drink you have, which is where the danger arises.
It took until July 2012 to have BPA removed from baby bottles and sippy cups, but it’s important to avoid hard plastic infant products in general. Natural materials should always be put higher than others, and you should still be cautious about those products that claim to be BPA-free as they instead use as many natural materials as possible.
Companies Using BPA In Receipts
Believe it or not, BPA is part of the coating of receipts that are handed out when you complete a purchase, with 40% of tested receipts being shown as thermal paper coated in the substance. These receipts were used in large outlets like McDonald’s, Whole Foods and Safeway. Some of the tests showed that BPA was 1,000 times the amount on a receipt vs the lining of a can of food; more dangerous than we realize. Large chains like Starbucks choose to use receipts with no BPA at all, which is the way that it should be.
We don’t know how much of the BPA on receipts can be absorbed from the receipt to the skin, but scientific studies have found that the BPA transfers easily from the paper to the skin to the point it cannot be washed off.
Retail workers who are handling these receipts are going to be of concern; with an added possible 30% more BPA in their system than others.
What To Do About Toxic BPA
As it stands, there is an ongoing review of BPA with research continuing. The more people refuse to use products containing BPA chemicals; the more companies are going to have no choice but to sit up and take notice – they are going to lose millions of dollars as people stop buying products. Reducing exposure is essential, and you can do so in the following ways:
- Read the packaging. If the label announces BPA, then you need not to continue your purchase
- Cut can use. Canned foods have a resin that lines the inside. Usually, this resin contains BPA.
- Don’t heat plastics. Microwaveable Tupperware and dishwasher-safe Tupperware can all be broken down in the heat. This can then release BPA into your food.
- Use alternatives. Choose glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers where possible.