Science

What’s the Deal with BPA?

And why am I seeing "BPA-free" stickers everywhere?

What is it?

BPA, or bisphenol A, is a chemical that is often used in plastics to make them clear and strong. It is also in epoxy resins that can line water pipes and food cans, and is used in receipt paper. Although BPA is the most well-known bisphenol, there are dozens of other bisphenols (often called BPA replacements) out there that are chemically similar to BPA. Many of them are used in the same way that BPA is and have very similar health effects. A common replacement is bisphenol S, or BPS.


What can it do to me?

BPA is a synthetic chemical that looks like estrogen to your body. It has been shown to screw with hormones including testosterone and thyroid hormones. Because of this, BPA has been tied to a large range of health problems like breast cancer, reduced sperm production, infertility, heart disease, early onset of puberty in girls, diabetes, and obesity (1). There is also concern about BPA's effect on brain and behavioral development in fetuses, infants and children (2, 3).

Where is this stuff?

BPA is all over the place. It is well known for being using in plastic containers like reusable water bottles and food storage containers. It is also frequently used in the lining of aluminum cans, like for canned beans, tomatoes, or soups. Other places BPA may be lurking is in receipt paper, electronics, dental sealants and orthodontic products, PVC, and sports safety equipment (think helmets, shin guards, wrist guards, etc.).

When products containing BPA, or any of the other BPA replacements, are heated, the chemicals can get into the food and water they are touching. This means it is more likely to leach into (leave the container and enter) food that is fatty - things like creamy and cheesy sauces or soups, meat, oily dips, leftover fries, and baby formula. It also leaches into acidic foods - like canned tomatoes, pineapple, and mandarin oranges.

How can I stay safe?

  1. Limit the amount of plastics that come into contact with food or water in your life. Try to choose glass, ceramic, or stainless steel food storage containers, water bottles, and baby bottles. Make sure any metal containers or bottles are not lined with resin (you can usually feel a waxy coating on the inside if they are). Remember, if a plastic product is marked "BPA-free" it is not necessarily safer: it is possible it contains a BPA alternative, such as BPS, which is chemically similar to BPA, and that scientists are starting to show have the same negative health effects.
  2. Avoid canned food as much as possible. If fresh produce isn't an option, frozen is better than canned (this article explains why). When you are looking for things like packaged tomatoes or fruit, look for options in glass jars or cartons - the papery boxes used for soups and other products.
  3. Never microwave in plastic! Microwaving makes it easier for the BPA to leave the container and get into your food. Instead, put your leftovers on a plate, then microwave them, and eat from the plate.
  4. Say no thanks to receipts. According to Johanna Rochester, PhD, Senior Scientist from The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, "BPA that coats the receipt paper is absorbed through the skin. If you need to keep them, store them in a ziploc bag, as BPA can transfer to your wallet, money, and purse. Do not let children play with receipts or put them in their mouths. If you work in the service industry, wash your hands often (do not use hand sanitizer, as this can increase absorption) and ask your employer to provide latex gloves."

The good news?

BPA is known to leave your system pretty quickly. This means that if you stop coming into contact with it, most of the BPA will be out of your system within a day or two. Making small changes really does add up!

Not so fast...

Although BPA leaves the body quickly, we are constantly being exposed to it. BPA is especially harmful for babies and pregnant women. These are both times in life that are considered "critical periods" because so much is changing and growing quickly.

"During this time, hormones send signals to the fetus or baby and direct how the cells and systems grow and develop. BPA can disrupt this signalling and can alter how cells develop and reprogram systems. This reprogramming can manifest as diseases or disorders when the child grows up. Some studies show that if pregnant women are exposed to endocrine disruptors like BPA, it can lead to obesity in their children," said Dr. Rochester.

What's crazier is that things happening to you can even affect your baby's baby.

"Exposure to BPA can also affect future generations--your grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. This is because all of the eggs of a baby girl are present before she is born, and BPA can affect her eggs through epigenetic changes--permanent changes in how a gene works that can be inherited over generations. This can also happen in males," explained Dr. Rochester.

So, these tips are even more important for women who are pregnant, couples trying to get pregnant, and parents with infants, and those who are breastfeeding.

1) vom Saal F, Akingbemi B et al. Bisphenol A expert panel consensus statement: integration of mechanisms, effects in animals and potential to impact human health at current levels of exposure. Reproductive Toxicology. 2007;24(2):131-138.

2) https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/materials/bisphen...

3) https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/ohat/bisphenol/bisph...

Why Creating Your Own Compost Might Be Easier Than You Think

We've got step-by-step instructions, tips and tricks to get you the best looking soil around (seriously!)

You made it! Now that you're here, don't run yet! Gone are the days when composting meant throwing a heap of your leftovers in the dirt and banking on magic to make some soil (not that you still can't). BUT, we've got everything you need to know to jump on the composting train, reduce your carbon footprint and start saving money on fertilizer without all the headache and mess.

Keep Reading Show Less
Want more news like this?
Sign up to receive our email newsletter and never miss an update!
By submitting above, you agree to our privacy policy.
/ SOCIAL

9 Veggies You Can Grow Indoors

Gourmet dinners with fresh veggies and no more plastic herb packets are in your future

What's better than having an indoor plant baby? How about one that gives you food? Even if you don't have a backyard, you can grow some vegetables and herbs on a windowsill inside. We found 9 veggies and herbs that are easy to grow inside and are useful to have on hand.

Keep Reading Show Less

Why You Should Care About Soil Contamination If You're Starting a Garden in Your Backyard

Here's the dirt-y details you're going to want to know and what to do about it

Dreary winter blues might have you dreaming of blue skies, warm weather and some home grown vegetables. But before you go jetting off to your nearest Home Depot or nursery, you might want to take a second and get to know your soil. We're serious! No, not the hello, my name is ____, more like the hey, what's in my soil? Not all soils are created equally and trust us when we say that you'll definitely want to make sure the soil you're using for growing food to eat is top notch!

Keep Reading Show Less
Home

What All Those Certifications on Mattresses Actually Mean

Label Education: Decoding what GOTS, GOLS, Greenguard, Organic, and more mean

Choosing the right mattress is so important for sound sleep and health, yet with so many options the shopping can be confusing and stressful! Obviously you want to take comfort and pricing into consideration, but there are some chemical ingredients you might want to consider too. Standard synthetic foam mattresses can contain various harmful chemicals we don't want to be sleeping on. And these chemicals can evaporate into the air, or collect in house dust, which is yucky and no good for your family's health.

The great news is that there are a bunch of healthier alternatives, and these labels below can help you find them. We also have a roundup of 12 non-toxic mattress brands if you just want a quick guide to organic mattresses and natural mattresses you can buy.

Keep Reading Show Less
Roundups

12 Non-Toxic Mattresses

options for every budget that are free of any harsh chemicals and petroleum-based foam, including organic mattresses

Step 1: Start researching organic mattresses or natural mattresses. Step 2: Get confused! Step 3: Look at our roundup where we did all the research on safe, well reviewed, comfy mattresses for you. Step 4: Order a healthy, non-toxic, organic mattress Step 5: Sleep more peacefully. We found options for every budget, so what are you waiting for?

All of the mattress brands we found use natural materials like 100% natural latex, organic cotton, and wool, and do not use petroleum-based foams or no chemical flame retardants. For our budget picks ($), a base model queen retailed for less than $1000. For the quality picks ($), a queen ran between $1000 and $2000. And the splurge picks ($) retailed for above $2000. Some brands use inner coils and some are made of just latex layers. We hope this list of natural mattress brands is a good starting place for a better night's sleep.

Keep Reading Show Less

Are your noisy neighbors and traffic noises from outside making you mad? Quite possibly! All the noise you experience throughout the day might be taking a toll on your health. Besides just being supremely annoying, studies show that noise pollution - yep that's really what it's called - is intricately linked to many mental and physical health problems.

Not only does the constant annoyance of irritating noises make people more anxious, but noise makes working more difficult. The noise itself disrupts memory, affects your ability to focus, and decreases performance (1). And if the noise is disrupting your sleep, then that might mean even more bad news!

Keep Reading Show Less

We all have our favorite lipstick. The one that we wear practically every day, is acceptable for work and going out, and that you are always sure to buy extras of, just in case the store runs out. Maybe yours is bright red, a nude pink, or maybe you like to go all out and wear a different shade every week. Regardless of how you get your perfect pout, it might be time to put on your detective hat and take a deeper dive into what makes your lips shine.

Keep Reading Show Less
Want more news like this?
Sign up to receive our email newsletter and never miss an update!
By submitting above, you agree to our privacy policy.
/ SOCIAL