“Just one word: plastics”
The Graduate (1967)
Obviously, the industry did not think about it enough! For instance, a study was published in the Environmental Health Perspectives Journal last year relating to plastic food packaging. Researchers put five San Francisco families on a three-day diet of food that had not been in contact with plastic. They compared urine samples before and after the diet, the scientists were stunned to see what a difference a few days could make. The participants’ levels of bisphenol A (BPA), which is used to harden polycarbonate plastic, plunged — by two-thirds, on average — while those of the phthalate DEHP, which imparts flexibility to plastics, dropped by more than half.
The findings seem to confirm what many experts suspected: Plastic food packaging is a major source of these potentially harmful chemicals, which most Americans harbor in their bodies. (http://bangordailynews.com/2012/04/18/health/foods-packaged-in-plastic-come-with-a-helping-of-chemicals/)
Let’s look at the ominous culprit that hides in most of the plastics we use, BPA. BPA stands for bisphenol A. Bisephol-a (BPA). BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. It is a chemical that keeps plastic products from breaking or absorbing flavors or odors. Epoxy resins are also used to coat the inside of metal products, such as food cans, bottle tops and water supply lines. Some dental sealants and composites also may contain BPA.
Exposure to BPA is a concern because of possible health effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children. It has also been shown to disrupt the body’s normal hormone functions.
Here are just six everyday common products that can contain BPH:
1. Toys: Hard plastic toys may contain BPA.
2. Canned food: Cans typically contain a plastic lining made with a polycarbonate resin, meaning BPA. This chemical may be leeching into your canned foods. Look for food packed in BPA-free cans, or use fresh vegetables and homemade sauces/soups instead of canned food.
3. Receipts: Cash register receipts were found to contain alarming levels of BPA, some with as much as 1,000 times the amount in canned food. Be sure to wash your hands after handling them.
4. Soda: The aluminum cans that house your soda typically contain BPA. And just like food cans, soda cans contain a plastic lining that can leech BPA into your beverage. Steer clear of soda cans, and soda. This is only one horrifying and unhealthy ingredient in soda!
5. Pizza boxes: If your pizza came in a pizza box made from recycled materials, it may contain BPA. Because BPA is found in receipts, newspaper ink and other sources, items made from recycled paper might be contaminated with this chemical.
6. Water Bottles: Americans buy more bottled water than any other nation in the world. In just one year, 29 billion water bottles are produced. Manufacturers crank out 17 million barrels of crude oil to produce these bottles. This equals enough oil to fuel a million cars for twelve months!
The FDA is continuing its review of BPA – including supporting ongoing research. In the meantime, if you’re concerned about BPA you can take the following steps to reduce your exposure:
- Seek out BPA free products.
- Cut back on cans
- Keep water on hand in a BPA-free water bottle.
- Save money by packing your own lunch in a BPA-free lunch set.
- Avoid heat. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health, advises against microwaving polycarbonate plastics or putting them in the dishwasher, because the plastic may break down over time and allow BPA to leach into foods.