Sunday, April 27, 2008

BPA: Hype or Concern?

I keep reading all these articles on the risks of BPA in our plastics. And on the iVillage expecting board many many moms are switching over their previously used bottles for BPA free or glass bottles.

What is Bisphenol A?
Bisphenol A is a hormone-mimicking chemical used in polycarbonate plastics (PC or identified as #7 recycling code) and resins commonly used for items such as shatterproof baby bottles. Bisphenol has estrogenic properties which, in animal tests has shown to cause a bevy of health problems such as an increase in prostate and breast cancer, uro-genital abnormalities in male babies, a decline in semen quality in men, early onset of puberty in girls, metabolic disorders including insulin-resistant (Type 2) diabetes and obesity and neurobehavioral problems such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Research is showing that when plastic containers, mostly those used to hold liquids and foods, are leeching Bisphenol into the foods and liquids they are holding. Heating food and liquids with these plastics is shown to increase the leeching of this contaminate.

Many companies use this chemical in their packaging including cans, soda cans, and plastic food containers. There is a risk of absorbing this chemical through the use of containing foods and liquids but can also leech into our water systems through landfills.

Many leading experts argue that the use of Bisphenol is safe to the human public but research may begin to further prove otherwise.

If you're unfamiliar with what is being said about BPA and bottles... here is a "Crash Course" from the website:
  • What is BPA? BPA or Bisphenol-a is a chemical used mostly in polycarbonate plastics (PC), which are used in: baby bottles, sippy cups, sports bottles, canned food / formula lining, and jar food lids. Greeeat. (feel my thick sarcasm?)
  • How do I know if something is made with PC? Flip the item over and look for a recycling symbol on the bottom. It looks like a triangle of arrows with a number between 1 - 7 in the center. Polycarbonate plastic is usually marked with a 7. It might sometimes have a PC next to it indicating polycarbonate.
  • Avoid PC 7 to Avoid BPA
  • Why should I avoid BPA? Bisphenol-a is a known endocrine disruptor. Meaning it has estrogenic properties which, in recent animal tests has shown to cause a bevy of health problems such as;
    • precancerous tumors
    • uro-genital abnormalities in male babies,
    • a decline in semen quality in males,
    • early onset of puberty in females,
  • Research is showing that when plastic containers, mostly those used to hold liquids and foods, are leeching Bisphenol into the foods and liquids they are holding. Heating food and liquids with these plastics is shown to increase the leeching of this contaminate. Bottom line: It’s icky and if you don’t want to chance it on your precious kids, there are ways to avoid it.

  • So, do my Avent / Dr. Browns baby bottles have BPA? If they are the traditional hard clear plastic ones that millions of people use? Most likely, YES. Want to check which bottles are not made with polycarbonate plastic (PC)? We have a growing list of bottles, sippy cups, milk storage and other items available:
  • What if my item has no recycling code on it? Welcome to our hell! There is no way of knowing unless you a) Find it on the “BPA Free lists” or call the company the product is made by and ask them what kind of plastic it is. We wish it was easier than that, believe us.

I'm really at a loss as to what to think. When I first read about BPA I was concerned... and I looked into it and contemplated tossing all the Avent bottles that I used with Porter (they do contain BPA... Avent has released a materials chart, although they will be going BPA free by the end of 2008) . But then I started to think... Porter drank from those bottles and he's fine (so far)... and honestly, our world is laced in toxins and we can't shelter our children from everything. So, I figured I'd keep them. Well, now I'm reading more and more about how Canada is banning all BPA products, and by the end of 2008 Toys R Us and Walmart will sell only BPA free products. Its making me wonder...

I mean... these kinds of plastics are everywhere: Bottles, sippy cups, pacifiers, shampoo bottles, lotion bottles (all sorts of kids skincare products), food storage, water bottles etc etc etc... the list goes on. Is it really a concern? Or is it just a bunch of hype? I mean, we weren't concerned with this 20 years ago... but then again its scary to think of all the young and middle aged people with terrible diseases like cancer and the like and there are no surefire "causes" to cancer. Maybe there is some truth to the BPA scare?

Here is one link that was interesting: BPA Timeline: from invention to phase out

What do you think? I'd love to hear all your opinions, and especially if there are any readers out there that know more about plastics and the effects on the body.

For those interested, or concerned with BPA... here are a few articles I've bookmarked "just in case" I decide to take caution and go BPA free..


  1. Yeah, we are banning them/pulling them off the shelves. The greatest thing though is that you can return any of your BPA bottles to stores (used, old etc) with no reciept and get a store credit for something else. I'm cursing myself for throwing away all the Avent bottles!

    For this one, we are doing mainly glass bottles for at home (and holy crap, I'm SO glad I got them in the US when we were there, you should SEE what they are trying to charge people here right now) and a couple other kids (Born Free - BPA free plastic and Playtex liners (which are safe because they don't touch the bottles) for when we are out.

    Wow, that was one long run on sentence!!

    Morgan used only Avent bottles too and while he's fine, I just couldn't use them knowing they could have some level of toxin, you know? I know everything does these days but still, can't do it.

    We will also only be using silicone pacifiers because they are plastic free.

    It's a HUGE thing here right now but then where I live is very crunchy and huge on being green etc.

  2. Forgot to add - Morgan still uses plastic sippy cups but they are the safe ones.

    We don't wash any plastics in the dishwasher (handwash only) or heat things up in plastic in the microwave either as that's where the toxins leach out, is when they are heated.

    We also won't be using our microwave sterizer (dammit, I loved that thing) and have a countertop model for the glass bottles.

    We still use plastics though, we just use them differently now, you know?

  3. For now where I stand is basically what you said; our world is full of stuff that is not good for us. All the rises in cancers and autism and countless other diseases and defects... we don't know what exactly is causing all of it and even if we do it's almost impossible to shelter our kids from so much of what our world is made of. Plastics, chemicals, foods chock full of preservatives...

    I think the media and message and parent boards to make a lot of hype out of issues like these. But then, there's got to be at least a little bit of truth to it right? So where do you draw the line?

    For me, I'm not making any drastic changes. I want to be aware of what's being researched, what's being changed in the safety regulations, but I'm not freaking out about anything. (If I want to go that way, there's really just too much to freak out about!!) We're planning on having another baby around here someday soon, and as far as bottles, sippy's and other plastics, I'm making some changes from here on out, but I'm not going all gung ho spending loads of extra money on things that at this point I don't believe are crucial. Sure Canada and some stores are going all BPA free, but there are no recalls, I don't believe these things are necessarily immediately dangerous. We all and my first two kids are alive and well after being inundated with these "evil" plastics thus far in their lives and in light of new "evidence" and for the future, I may be more aware of the choices I make in what I'm buying, but at this point I'm not trashing all of our cups and bottles that are still in good shape. If we do need some replaced just because, then I will most likely be sure I'm replacing them with BPA-free products, etc.
    It's kind of my same approach to foods, drugs, and other things in our everyday lives. I'm slowly trying to make healthier, more natural, and better choices for my kids and my family as I am learning more, becoming more educated and aware of options we have, without going overboard and taking anything to a panicky extreme.

  4. I think we have discussed this before because I too have the Avent bottles. From what I understand (and I haven't looked into it a whole lot) the biggest concern is heating anything in the bottles. We use hot water from the tap and hand wash our bottles so hopefully it is not an issue. I'm sure someone out there thinks I am killing my child by giving her water from the tap so who knows...

    Is it all a bunch of hype? Probably not, I am sure there is a grain of truth but possibly not to the extent some people are making of it? The internet is full of yahoos so I try not to get too worked up about that stuff. We do the best we can with the knowledge we have right now.

  5. Well, I still use the Avent bottles. I used them with both the girls and they have survived. I try to ignore a lot of hype about things just because if you paid attention to ALL OF IT you wouldn't be able to do anything. I just really don't have time to read about everything out there. I agree with Heather, we have all survived so many things that are now deemed "bad" for us. I think we will continue to survive regardless.

  6. I've used Born Free bottles with Jack. I just want to see the evidence (or lack thereof) for long term effects of the plastic BPA bottles before I use them.

  7. Hey Nicole, I read an article on Webmd yesterday regarding this issue. Check it out:

    I thought an interesting point was this :""Consumers would have to eat more than 500 pounds of food and beverages in contact with polycarbonate plastic or epoxy resins every day of their lives to exceed exposure levels determined to be safe by the European Food Safety Authority and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency," states the American Chemistry Council, adding that typical human exposure to bisphenol A "is approximately 1,000 times below the safe exposure levels."

    It's worth a read, it presents a different view on all the hype.

  8. Hey thanks for posting this! Lukas still likes to have warm milk in the evenings before bed and we have been microwaving it, but stopped when i read more about this chemical. now he just has cold milk and am glad he adjusted to that pretty quickly. now i worry about the last 2 1/2 years that weve already exposed our kids to with this!