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BPA and its risks to health

BPA and its risks to health

In the last couple of years, the possible health risks of Bisphenol A (BPA) -- a common chemical in plastic -- made headlines. Parents were alarmed, pediatricians flooded with questions, and stores quickly sold out of BPA-free bottles and sippy cups.

BPA is a chemical that has been used to harden plastics for more than 40 years. It's everywhere. It's in medical devices, compact discs, dental sealants, water bottles, the lining of canned foods and drinks, and many other products.

More than 90% of us have BPA in our bodies right now. We get most of it by eating foods that have been in containers made with BPA. It's also possible to pick up BPA through air, dust, and water.

BPA was common in baby bottles, sippy cups, baby formula cans, and other products for babies and young children. Controversy changed that. Now, the six major companies that make baby bottles and cups for infants have stopped using BPA in the products they sell in the U.S. Many manufacturers of infant formula have stopped using BPA in their cans, as well.

Almost all water bottles are made with BPA. It is a colorless solid that is soluble in organic solvents and water. This chemical is known as an endocrine-disrupting agent that mimics the hormone estrogen. BPA has been linked to numerous negative health effects in countless studies

The “life” or reusability of a BPA water bottle is zero. Once you start consuming the liquid in the bottle, BPA is slowly released and dissolves in the same water you are drinking.

Some of the consequences of consuming this chemical include obesity, heart disease, brain alterations, erectile dysfunction, infertility, and even cancer. Doctors recommend reducing exposure to this chemical by avoiding plastic containers that are not labeled as BPA-free, or using glass or stainless steel food containers instead of plastic.

You can find BPA everywhere (air, water, etc.) in small amounts, but enough for modern analysis methods to detect it.

The problem is not the presence of BPA in certain plastics, but the fact that when said plastics come in contact with foodstuffs, part of the BPA can (and probably will) be transferred to them, being ingested by humans or animals and then becoming part of the environment. This is called migration.

Possible cases of migration are: into water in plastic bottles, into food stored in bags or plastic containers either in refrigerators, freezers, or by heating them in a microwave oven. Though certain plastics like polyethylene terephthalate (PET, recycle code 1), or polypropylene (PP, recycle code 5) are considered safe, there is controversy about the possibility of PET bottles transferring BPA into water. According to the current norm, the use of BPA is not prohibited, and its actual toxicity limits are unknown.

As stated before, the best solution to avoid exposure to BPA is using glass or stainless steel containers instead of plastic, but it will be pointless if you only transfer it from a plastic container to glass or steel; it has to come from a BPA-free source. For example, even if you pour your water into a glass pitcher, if it came from a plastic bottle, it’s already contaminated with BPA.

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