As the general public becomes more and more aware of the dangers of BPA, which can be found in a surprising amount of everyday products, we’ve decided to put together this complete guide on what BPA really is, why and where it’s banned and whether stainless steel is the better choice.
What is BPA?
BPA is short for ‘Bisphenol A’ which is a chemical compound that’s added during the production of some plastics and resins. It’s predominantly used as a hardening agent to help plastics solidify and to coat the inside of metal products, particularly in plastic bottles, cups and tins of canned food.
Since BPA was created in the 1960s, plastic manufacturers have been using it in hundreds of everyday household items. And, over the years, as research has revealed that BPA can seep into food and beverages, causing harmful effects, especially amongst children, there’s been some cause for concern.
Top 3 reasons to avoid harmful exposure to BPA
Although the FDA has announced that they believe BPA is safe, there have still been multiple reports that it’s linked to several health issues. And, while the science isn’t 100% clear, there are 3 issues in particular that repeatedly occur.
1. It may interfere with our hormone systems
BPA could affect your hormones as it can interfere with the endocrine system, which releases hormones around the body. Some scientists have also said that if BPA interferes with sex hormones it could potentially affect puberty in children or the menopause or even cause hormone-related cancers.
2. It can lead to health problems
There have been many health issues which people believe are accelerated by BPA including heart disease, obesity, increased blood pressure, asthma and intestinal inflammation.
3. It can cause fertility and reproductive problems
This toxic, chemical compound could be causing problems for millions of people when it comes to procreating. This is because BPA, as mentioned previously, affects the hormones which directly affects fertility, making it much more difficult for women to conceive and can even cause an increased risk of miscarriage. Research has also shown that this type of chemical found in plastic can cause birth defects and behavioural problems in children.
Where BPA is found?
Here is a list of just some the household items that BPA can be found in:
- Canned food
- Feminine hygiene products
- CDs and DVDs
- Products packaged in plastic containers
- Eyeglass lenses
- Sports equipment
- Household electronics
- Dental filling sealants
- Sales receipts
How and when does BPA leach?
The biggest source is BPA consumption is through food packaged in plastic or in cans. This happens because not all of the BPA gets sealed properly into the product, meaning some of it can break away and mix in with the food or beverages the packaging contains. Additionally, according to Scientific American, BPA can leach up to 55 times quicker if a plastic bottle, a baby bottle, for example, has been heated.
Where is BPA banned?
The EU has been the most proactive in banning BPA from certain items like receipts, baby bottles, dummies and teethers and food packaging for children. France currently has the strictest rules against BPA, banning it against all food and beverage packaging as well as utensils.
In both America and Canada, the FDA has also banned the use of BPA in baby bottles for children under 12 months old but have declared that it poses no health threats for humans.
Scientific findings on BPA
Over the last 10 years, many scientific studies have questioned and researched the safety of BPA. But, there’s not been conclusive proof that it’s very harmful to humans. In fact, there’s actually a lack of human data in this area which is part of the problem. This is because it’s difficult to find people who haven’t been exposed to BPA, but also because scientists don’t want to test the potentially harmful substance on humans, especially on pregnant women. So, they have had to depend on animal testing.
That being said, in 2010, US scientists carried out assessments on the BPA levels in the urine of 2,948 adults that concluded that exposure to the chemical is associated with heart disease in the adult population in the US.
While further on-going studies need to be carried out, more recent research from Yale University have indicated that BPA is a real and present danger to health and that action is necessary to reduce exposure to BPA, partially amongst children and pregnant women.
What are the environmental effects of BPA
Unfortunately, BPA is having detrimental effects on the environment. With the amount of litter covering our streets and beaches all over the world, many plastics are ending up in our oceans and, therefore, our water supplies. With the BPA in plastics leaching into the oceans, rivers and streams, it will also start to impact the wildlife and disrupt the ecosystems.
Just how BPA affects our hormone system, it can have similar effects on the reproductive systems of aquatic species, reptiles and birds. These effects can dramatically decrease the fertility of the impacted wildlife, placing some at risk of becoming endangered.
This is partly why we need to make a bigger effort in eradicating single-use plastics, such as straws which are bad for sea turtles and other ocean life, as they are the biggest contributor to plastic pollution of the body and the planet.
What does BPA free mean?
BPA-free products mean that they do not contain any BPA, but rather BPA substitutes that are deemed to be safer than BPA.
Is BPA free plastic safe?
When you see products with the ‘BPA-free’ label, you may think they’re perfectly safe for you and any children to use. But, you must still be cautious as many BPA substitutes, such as BPS or BPF, haven’t been studied or tested enough and the research that has been carried out on these chemicals have shown some negative effects.
Researchers discovered that BPA substitutes can cause decreased sperm counts in mice and less-viable eggs. While this has not been tested on humans, they believe it could have the same outcome, although much more research is required before it’s concluded to be dangerous.
How do I avoid BPA and other plastics?
Avoiding BPA can be extremely tricky as it’s so widely used in many household items. But, the good news is there are plenty of small changes you can make to reduce your exposure to BPA!
- First of all, don’t expose any suspected BPA products to heat. As microwaving or putting your plastic pots in the dishwasher will increase the likelihood of the BPA seeping into your food.
- Choose homemade meals rather than takeaways, not only will this be better for your bank balance and your health, but it also means you’ll avoid BPA containing plastics that are used to package the delivered food.
- Avoid canned foods as much as possible as BPA lines the inside of the cans.
- Store leftovers in glass containers with a BPA-free lid to keep your food safe.
- Find alternatives to plastics wherever possible to reduce your BPA exposure.
Solutions to reverse plastic pollution
By doing all of the above not only will you be reducing your exposure to BPA, but you’ll also be helping in the fight to reverse plastic pollution. Using plastic alternatives, ditching the takeaways, opting for stainless steel straws rather than plastic straws and avoiding other single-use plastics such as carrier bags, will all make a big difference to the environment.
Are stainless steel tumblers & bottles better than plastic?
Stainless steel is the best alternative to plastic water bottles as they are reusable, eco-friendly and extremely durable. Plus, it’s far more efficient at keeping your drinks well-insulated. We guarantee that once you make the switch from plastic bottles to stainless steel you won’t look back.
Are stainless steel water bottles always BPA free?
Stainless steel water bottles are completely toxin-free, meaning you can drink your water without the worry of any chemicals like BPA being ingested. Stainless steel also helps to prevent the growth of mould and bacteria, unlike plastic and even reusable plastic bottles, with the proper care.
What is the benefit of stainless steel for the planet, is stainless steel eco friendly?
Yes, stainless steel is eco-friendly and ultimately good for the planet. These reusable stainless steel tumblers and bottles are highly durable, meaning they will last longer so less will be going to landfill. Unlike the millions of water bottles which are thrown out every day. Over time, stainless steel bottles will also require less energy to make than plastic ones, so that energy can be saved. Plus, stainless steel can be recycled or repurposed easily. There hasn’t been a better time to invest in a stainless steel bottle. If taken care of correctly they could last up to 12 years before needing replacing. And, with many colours and designs available you can really make it your own.
Find out more about us at Greens Steel and what our plans and goals are for the future.
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