It’s very likely that you’ve seen the BPA-free labels on plastic products or heard the conversations about BPA and its effect on humans. You probably know enough to know BPA isn’t exactly good for us, but you’re probably not sure why.
What is BPA?
BPA – also known as Bisphenol A – is an organic synthetic compound that is often used in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are used in the manufacturing of food and drink packaging while epoxy resins are used as lacquers to coat metal products like food cans, bottle tops and water supply pipes. While there are two sides to the debate on whether or not BPA is harmful to humans, the evidence suggests we should avoid it at all cost. There is an alarming amount of research that indicates BPA is harmful when consumed by humans.
How Exactly Does BPA Affect Us?
While there are many ways for us to come in contact with BPA, exposure through food tends to be the most common. When BPA is used in packaging and plastic products the compound isn’t sealed. When these containers are exposed to heat the plastic may break down resulting in traces of BPA leaching into the food stored in the container. This means when you put a plastic container with BPA into the microwave, the container releases traces of BPA into the food. Obviously, that can’t be good.
While the FDA continues to support large manufacturers and insists that BPA is harmless the evidence suggests otherwise. Numerous studies have suggested that BPA has been linked to several lifestyle illnesses including cancer, heart disease, reproductive disorders, and behavioral problems in children.
How Can You Avoid BPA Exposure?
While it is not possible to completely eliminate exposure to BPA there are several ways to manage it. For starters, the most common means of BPA exposure – through food – can be managed by making a few changes in your home and to your lifestyle.
Use BPA-Free Products
It is important to make sure the plastic containers and products that you use are BPA-free. This is especially important for baby bottles, pacifiers, and other items. Of course, you should always check the labels and do your research if you’re not sure about a product or a brand, but as a rule of thumb, most times products marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 include BPA.
Don’t Microwave Plastics
Because BPA is released into food when containers are exposed to heat it is important to avoid microwaving food in plastic containers. Instead, consider transferring the food to a microwave safe glass container. This rule also applies to the dishwasher. Even though containers are empty when placed in a dishwasher the BPA can still leach into foods that are added to the container after washing.
Replace Plastic Containers with Glass or Stainless Steel Containers
It is a good idea to replace your plastic storage containers with glass or stainless steel. This is important not just for microwaving and washing, but also for general storage of warm or hot food items.
Reduce Canned Goods Consumption
Canned goods are often lined with epoxy resin that contains BPA, so as far as is possible, try to avoid canned goods or seek out canned goods that are labeled “BPA-free packaging”.