Bisphenol A, or BPA for short, is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. In particular, BPA is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are often used in containers that store food and beverages, such as water bottles, baby bottles and cups. They may also be used in toys and other consumer goods. Epoxy resins can be used to coat the inside of metal products, such as food cans, baby formula cans, bottle tops and water supply lines. Some dental sealants and composites also may contain BPA.
Some research has shown that BPA can seep into food or beverages from containers that are made with BPA or into your body when you handle products made with BPA. BPA remains controversial, and research studies are continuing.
The Environmental Working Group has released its Guide to BPA. A 5 step list of things to look out for regarding BPA. Highlights include EWG’s tests of major retailers’ store receipts conducted in 2010. The study showed that 40% of the receipts tested were coated with BPA. The chemical can rub off on hands and food. Frequent exposures to relatively large amounts of BPA in receipts are an obvious concern to every shopper, but even more so to the legions of people who staff cash registers and bag groceries at tens of thousands of retailers across the country. These workers handle BPA-loaded receipts hundreds of times a day, with as yet unknown consequences for their health. Retail workers carry an average of 30 percent more BPA in their bodies than other adults.
If you’re concerned about BPA, you can take steps to minimize your exposure by:
-Seeking out BPA-free products. This may not always be easy to do, of course. Some manufacturers label their products as BPA-free. If a product isn’t labeled, keep in mind that most aluminum cans or bottles have linings that contain BPA, while steel bottles or cans don’t. Polycarbonate plastic is generally hard, clear, lightweight plastic. It often has the No. 7 recycling symbol on the bottom.
-Microwave cautiously. The National Toxicology Program advises against microwaving polycarbonate plastics, although the American Chemistry Council says this is safe. The plastics can break down over time, possibly causing BPA to leach into food.
-Wash safely. The National Toxicology Program advises against washing polycarbonate plastics in the dishwasher using harsh detergents, although the American Chemistry Council says this is safe.
-Cut back on cans. Reduce your use of canned foods since many cans are lined with BPA-containing resin.
Find out all you can about BPA in your home and stay informed by visiting the EWG website.