You may be more screwed than you think

If you watch the local news station, read news online, or are really alive in any way at all, you’re familiar with how often we hear about the new way we’re all going to die. It may be a new-found disease that has the potential of wiping out mass numbers of people, or a possible terrorist attack, something you eat.

Tonight it was food-related, but the catch is that it may not have been you, but rather your parents. And guess what? They may have screwed over your kids as well, through you. At least according to a several news articles.

Bisphenol A, or BPA for short, is a chemical found in many types of containers, breast feeding accessories, plastic baby bottles, canned foods, and even some dental fillings. It’s used to make such things shatter-resistant. Originally, it was designed to be used for birth control, but they found a better way of producing synthetic estrogen and abandoned the research into BPA for this purpose. When they found out how well it worked for shatter-resistance, I guess they went nuts and added it to everything.

However, lab research indicates that BPA may make men infertile, cause cancer, and may cause down syndrome and other developmental defects in babies. And if that’s not bad enough, according to the report on the news tonight, a pregnant woman who has consumed high amounts of BPA can transfer that on to their kids, which can then transfer to their kids’ kids. However, I haven’t been able to find much else that states this.

The FDA and producers of products using BPA admit that BPA does transfer from the containers and into our food and drinks, and that we have it in our systems, but they claim that it’s such a small amount that it can’t possibly harm us. (Gee, heard that before.) They also claim that the lab research isn’t valid, given the overly high amounts of BPA fed to lab rats.

Still, there’s a lot of research out there claiming this stuff is really bad for us. The FDA reopened their studies on BPA and were supposed to be reaching a conclusion soon, but had to discard their results as they recently discovered that the company they had hired to do the tests had financial ties to companies that are pro-BPA. I don’t know how they didn’t discover this before, but they’ve now fired the company and will be conducting new tests “soon.”

Maybe the pro-BPA companies are right. Maybe BPA is safe, but maybe not. Either way, you’re probably not going to be able to avoid it. It’s everywhere, in so many products that you consume every day, and, as admitted by the pro-BPA companies, it’s in a lot of the food you eat.

Knowing that, does anybody intend to do anything about it? Give up on plastic containers, canned food, and plastic bottles? Even though you likely already have BPA in you, right now?

4 thoughts on “You may be more screwed than you think”

  1. Máirín

    I vaguely remember my Japanese teacher in college going kind of nutty over this, I guess they know about it in Japan; I vaguely remember her telling us never to microwave foods in plastic containers because it releases the chemicals into the food.

  2. I generally don’t worry about stuff until after there’s formal proof. It’s like premature optimisation – understand it before you worry about it, unless it’s being an obvious ‘killer’ problem. Otherwise you’ll over-react and are more likely to make bad long-term choices.

    It’s unlikely that sort of problem, or we would have worked it out well before now.

  3. The fun thing about BPA is that it is one member of a really broad group of chemicals called endocrine disrupters. There has not really been enough testing done to determine the safety – or lack thereof – of these compounds. More info at these websites:

    Although there is not enough evidence to panic, I always say “Better safe than sorry, especially if being safe doesn’t require too much work”. So I am moving away from plastic food and beverage containers when it is fairly easy (e.g. using glass or ceramic containers for storing leftovers) and when it is harder, I look for polypropylene (#5 PP) or low- or high- density polyethylene (#4 LDPE, #2 HDPE).

    PP and PE are probably safer than Polycarbonate or Polystyrene . Bottled water usually uses PET(E), and many (most?) other food and drink containers are PP or PE. I will also be replaceing my bike’s water bottle (which was polyethylene) with a stainless steel “Klean Kanteen”.

    I always avoid PVC, because it is impossible to recycle, and is really nasty health- and environment- wise. Greenpeace, despite being crazy in many respects, has a pretty good guide to plastics.

    Wow, that became quite the rant.

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