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What is BPA and why is it bad?

BPA, Bisphenol A, Toxic chemicalBPA, or Bisphenol A,  is a chemical used in polycarbonate plastic food and beverage containers.  It's common in baby bottles and water bottles.  It's also used in compact discs, safety equipment, and medical devices.   There have also been trace amounts in dental sealants and beverage cans.  The toxins can leach into your food and drink.  It's been suspected to be hazardous to one's health since the 1930s but just over recent years knowledge about its dangers have become more widespread.

Research has shown that BPA can leach into food from these containers and cans. BPA has appeared to cause health problems in animal studies, which is why some scientists are worried about the risks behind BPA and humans.  In over 130 studies, it's been suggested that some severe health problems can arise from even low doses of BPA.  From behavioral changes to diabetes to early puberty, the findings are really jaw-dropping.

It's hard to get away from BPA.  The 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found detectable levels of BPA in 93% of 2517 urine samples from participants aged six years and up.

Previously, the FDA thought that BPA was safe at current levels, but they are now reconsidering.  In November, a decision at the FDA will be reached concerning BPA.

Luckily, with the problems associated with BPA becoming widely known, lots of alternatives are popping up. has a guide to which baby bottles, and sippy cups are BPA-free.  Stainless steel water bottles are an alternative to plastic ones.    Also, the most common manufacturer of resuable water bottles, Nalgene, has begun to make BPA-free bottles.

How can you prevent exposure to BPA?

- Don’t microwave things in plastic food containers.  Use glass containers designed for microwaving.  I love Pyrex containers!

- Check the bottom of your plastic products.  Ones with a #7 often contain BPA.  Even though they often have the recycle logo, many cities will not recycle these items.  Recycling #2 and #5 are typically safer.

- Try not to use canned food.  Cans can be lined with a BPA-containing resin.

- Use baby bottles that are BPA-free.

- Don't drink from a  water cooler.  Those bottles are usually plastic #7.

- Don't put hot beverages in plastic mugs.

- Try not to use hard plastic utensils in the kitchen.  Opt for ones made of wood, glass, or metal.

- If you're storing hot food, wait until it cools to room temperature before putting it in a plastic container.

- Throw out plastic containers that are getting old.  If it's beginning to break down, it might be leaking more BPA.

- Limit toys made of plastic for your kids.  These can often end up in your child's mouth.

Learn more information about BPA and view an infogrphic over on Runka's BPA article.