If you care about your health, you probably care about what is in your products. If you care about what is in your products, you have probably heard of BPA. BPA is one of those things that shows up in the news, on packaging, and in consumer guides all the time. But what exactly is BPA? Is it an ingredient? Is it harmful? Should you really be avoiding BPA? Does using BPA free products really make a difference?
Sometimes, going down the rabbit hole can lead you to more questions than answers, but knowing what is in your products will give you the power to choose for yourself. In this article, we want to talk a little about what BPA is, what it has been linked to regarding public health, how consumer goods have changed as a result of consumer education, and some amazing BPA free products.
What is BPA?
BPA stands for bisphenol A. BPA and is a synthesized chemical used in the production of certain polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. BPA is the starting ingredient in the making of these plastics, and using BPA produces a desirable plastic product. BPA plastics are hard, lightweight, flexible, and clear; the perfect formula for mass-produced food and beverage packaging. BPA plastics have been used in consumer goods since the 1960s, most commonly found in plastic food and beverage storage containers.
While you may have heard that you should avoid plastic water bottles if you are trying to avoid BPA, many consumers have no idea just how many of the products they use every day contain the same chemical. Here are some common consumer goods that contain BPA:
- Cans: You may be surprised to learn that the simple aluminum cans you are used to seeing at the store actually contain BPA. Almost all cans used for storing foods like soup, vegetables, baby food, pet food, soda, beer, or coffee fall into this category. In cans, the presence of BPA takes the form of an epoxy liner used to keep the can leak proof.
- Plastic Bottles: Until recently, all plastic bottles contained BPA as a result of their manufacturing. Since BPA is commonly used as the initial ingredient in the production of hard, clear plastic, most beverage containers also contain BPA. Common consumer products that contained and may still contain BPA include baby bottles, water bottles, soda bottles, sports drink bottles, reusable hard plastic water bottles, and single use plastic cups.
- Lids: Though jars and other glass items may not contain BPA, the lids that seal them likely do. Aluminum lids are often sealed with the same coating used in cans.
- Baby Products: Pacifiers, baby bottles, baby bottle tops, and other plastic baby products often contain BPA. This includes baby foods, which may be jarred in glass, but be exposed to BPA via the lid.
- Receipts: Receipts are printed using thermal paper, not ink. Thermal paper is covered in a thin dusting of powdered BPA, which when handled can be absorbed into the skin.
BPA and Public Health
Now you know what BPA is, and where you can find it, but that still doesn’t answer whether you should be using products that contain BPA or not. BPA can seep into food or beverages from their containers, exposing consumers to absorbing the chemical. Though rates of BPA found in foods are considered ‘safe’ by the Food and Drug Administration, BPA has been linked to certain medical conditions and health risks.
BPA is a synthetic estrogen, which may disrupt the health of certain individuals. Babies, people with weakened or compromised immune systems, and senior citizens are most susceptible to the effects of BPA. BPA has been linked to the following conditions:
- Infertility: Because BPA is an estrogen, it may interact with estrogen receptors, which can play a role in both male and female infertility.
- Precocious puberty: A condition which causes a child to go through the process of puberty earlier than they should.
- Hormone dependent cancers: This includes breast and prostate cancers.
- Metabolic and hormone disorders
In research and testing done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), BPA was found to be present in nearly all test participants. These results suggest that, with so many plastic and BPA filled products on the market, BPA exposure is widespread and universally present. While low levels of BPA may not have an adverse impact on your general health, continued and prolonged exposure may increase your risk of developing certain conditions. Young children, developing fetuses, pregnant women, the elderly, and individuals whose health is already compromised will be at a higher risk of being negatively affected by BPA exposure.
Particular concern has been expressed in the potential for BPA levels to rise as products are reused and handled. Water from plastic water bottles in hot cars may have higher levels of BPA, as heating BPA plastics may cause the chemical to release at a higher rate. Similarly, BPA plastic products like plates, bowls, and cups may exposure the user to higher rates of BPA if washed in hot water, in the dishwasher, or if scratched during cleaning.
Changes to Consumer Goods
The Age of the Internet changed how consumers select and purchase products. Now, with more information than ever right at our fingertips, consumers are learning to self advocate and learn for themselves what they are putting in their bodies. A massive benefit that has come from this is that consumers are able to educate one another, gain information regarding the making and selling of their favorite products, and play a more active role as a consumer.
Along with the surge of the Internet, the early 2000s came with more interest from consumers and the government regarding the making and selling of consumer goods. Shocked to find that so many consumer goods contained this chemical, and upon learning the potential side effects of BPA absorption, consumers began to demand a change in how plastic manufacturing was regulated.
As more and more consumers and states began to take notice of the harmful chemicals they had been exposing themselves and their families to, new legislation began to be created. The following states have implemented BPA restrictions according to the National Conference of State Legislatures:
- New York
The majority of the restrictions in these states are in regards to the sale of goods containing BPA that are intended to be used by children. These restrictions have reduced the amount of BPA used in the manufacturing of plastics, but by no means halted it. Though these 12 states have set in motion what could mean a stricter, safer era of consumer goods manufacturing in the U.S., the other 38 states remain quiet regarding the use of BPA. With the risk of BPA exposure still high, consumers have unfortunately been given the responsibility of ensuring the products they use are safe.
BPA Free and Eco-Friendly
Beware the plastic water bottle: the most common culprit containing BPA. Though it may not be possible to avoid BPA entirely, taking a few simple steps can save you from excessive exposure. One of the best ways to do this is by replacing your plastic water bottles with a reusable water bottle. Plastic water bottles are manufactured using BPA, which can leach into the water they store. When exposed to heat, the BPA in plastic water bottles will increase, leaving you vulnerable to excessive BPA absorption.
Besides being linked to infertility, breast and prostate cancer, and other serious medical conditions, plastic bottles account for a huge amount of global pollution. Plastic bottles are a hugely popular consumer goods, and despite their recyclable nature, 91% of plastic water bottles end up not being recycled. Plastic water bottles are also not biodegradable, nor do they decompose. Chances are good nearly every plastic bottle you use in your lifetime will live in a landfill for centuries before it will even begin to break down.
Wowe Lifestyle has created the perfect eco-friendly alternative to single use BPA plastic water bottles: a 25oz Stainless Steel Water Bottle with a bamboo lid. Made from stainless steel, these BPA free water bottles are the perfect thing to bring on a hike, to class, or to work. There is no need to worry about this bottle heating up and exposing you to harmful BPA, there is none! This bottle is double vacuum sealed, perfect for hot or cold drinks, and features a bamboo lid for an extra touch of eco-friendly charm.
Buying a reusable Stainless Steel Water Bottle from Wowe is a great way to start your BPA free journey. Simply eliminating hard plastic drink containers from your lifestyle can help keep you healthy, save you money, and help reduce waste. A reusable water bottle isn’t just good for your health, it’s good for the planet.
Are you interested in learning more about what’s in your favorite products? Visit Wowe Lifestyle to learn about more healthy and eco-friendly alternatives, and for tips on going green!