If you’re a consumer that pays attention to packaging labels and advertising promotions, you’ll have no doubt seen the term BPA-free on several occasions in the last few years. This is particularly true on food and drinks packaging and containers. Naturally, then, you’ll be very interested to know what BPA is, how it can affect you, and why companies are so eager to celebrate the fact that their products do not contain it.
Here’s everything you need to know before making more calculated consumer decisions for your family.
What Is BPA?
BPA, which is short for Bisphenol A, is an organic synthetic chemical compound with the formula (CH₃)₂C(C₆H₄OH)₂. It is a chemical that has been used heavily in plastics production since the 1960s and commonly found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins.
The BPA chemical has frequently been used in the manufacturing of food storage containers and water bottles. The chemical is still present in many products to this day. As research has increased our understanding of materials and their effects, it has been shown that BPA can be quite dangerous.
What Are The Effects Caused By BPA?
While there are no major concerns about simply coming into contact with plastics containing the chemical, BPA toxic effects can occur when the chemical compound seeps into the food or drink, essentially contaminating it without your knowledge.
BPAs are in 90% of people living in developed countries, and dietary intake is the most common source of BPA intoxication by far. It can lead to a series of health problems.
The National Toxicology Program at the FDA has suggested that there could be links between BPA and conditions of the brain. This includes slowed development and the onset of neurological issues attributed to the connections between the brain and the affected parts of the body.
Studies on animals have shown a positive correlation between BPA intoxication and the increased risk of getting a number of cancers. While suggestions do not state that BPA toxic effects are directly responsible for cancer, the threat becomes noticeably greater when the body is hit by high levels of BPA.
Experts regularly state that BPA exposure increases the likelihood of being obese or diabetic. Further research shows that it can be directly linked to heart problems too. Although there are no concrete confirmations regarding the latter, it is quite worrying for those with existing issues.
Research conducted by the University of Buea in Cameroon found that BPA can cause hormonal changes, and may even be linked to infertility. It can affect both the male and female reproductive systems while, worryingly, growing foetuses are shown to be at risk of thyroid development issues along with various additional developmental problems.
The Good (Or At Least Better) News
The FDA does state that low levels of BPA are harmless to the body and this is supported by the various studies that have taken place. The problems start when exposure levels are increased. Unfortunately, in today’s society, that is quite likely. Unless you take the right precautions.
How To Reduce BPA Exposure
While you don’t necessarily need to avoid all BPA, it’s important to reduce the exposure as best you can. Choosing BPA-free products is the perfect starting point, as this instantly removes the threat of the chemical compounds getting into the foods or drinks. This doesn’t mean you should avoid drinking a bottle of water when you’re thirsty, even if the plastics do contain BPA. However, it’s worth being mindful of your selections.
Additional ways to reduce your BPA exposure include:
Choose powders over liquids, particularly when looking at infant food. Liquids are far more likely to absorb the BPA chemical, which could put the child at risk.
Opt for non-plastic containers when storing foods and drinks. Glass, porcelain, and stainless steel are all fantastic alternatives that are naturally free from BPA as they are not lined with it.
Keep BPA plastics out of heat. This means avoiding the microwave while also keeping them protected from long-term sun exposure. The heat will increase the threat of contamination.
Discard plastics that have been chipped, because they are far more likely to pass the BPA chemical to the foods stored inside them.
Ultimately, trying to stay BPA-free is a precautionary measure that can aid your health and protect the whole family. Given that the companies actively fighting back against the chemical are more commonplace than ever, there’s no excuse for ignoring this responsibility any longer.