BPA–Reason for Concern?

What is BPA?

The synthetic chemical bisphenol A (BPA) is most often found in plastic containers and the lining of metal cans. Petroleum-derived BPA is the building block for polycarbonate plastic (the hard, clear plastic used to make water bottles) and the epoxy resins that line aluminum and steel cans (cans that hold soda, beans, soups, and vegetables).

What is the health concern?

While BPA was approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for use as a material in food products in 1963, new research has shown that the chemical contributes to numerous health concerns. BPA acts as a potent estrogen-mimicking compound that has been linked to hormonal problems such as early puberty, damage to the reproductive system (including uterine fibroids and ovarian and breast cancers), low sperm count, prostate cancer, and even neurological problems such as attention deficit disorder and impaired memory. BPA has also been linked to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and immune disorders such as asthma and allergies.

What is being done?

The problem with BPA arises when products containing the chemical are exposed to high temperatures or an alkaline environment. Such conditions cause BPA’s bonds to break apart and the chemical then becomes the harmful estrogen-mimicking hormone. While in the 1970’s, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) categorized BPA as a chemical that is “generally recognized as safe”, in 2010, the FDA reversed its position that BPA is safe and agreed that there was reason for concern. There is of course plenty of financial and political debate that will take place before the FDA will ban BPA from food product materials. In the meantime, food companies are taking a stand in creating “BPA-free” products of their own for concerned consumers.

BPA Free products

What can you do?

Be a conscious consumer and look for products labeled “BPA-free” on your grocery store shelves. Here are a few things to know:

More and more companies are beginning to manufacture BPA-free products. As time goes on, we will begin to see additional products on the shelves to add to the list! In the meantime, the best thing to do is become educated on the issue and of course be a health-conscious consumer for you and your family.

Resources: Yale Environment 360, Mother Earth News

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