BPA (Bisphenol-A ), the chemical found to mimic the effects of estrogen in the human body, was created in 1891 by a Russian chemist.
BPA found its way into industry in the 1950s, as an element that could produce strong, and often transparent plastic materials.
Producers also keep metal packages from corroding and breaking by using BPA resins. As such, it now coats over 75% of cans in North America alone.
This chemical is still arousing controversy as research continues to prove its damage to human health. Yet, the BPA market was estimated at $13 billion in 2013, and sales are set to expand 5 % annually!
Can BPA be labeled ‘safe’?
The American Chemistry Council insists that BPA is safe and has continually opposed both state and federal legislative proposals to ban it. Since they risk losing the most of the benefit if BPA is taken off the market, this isn’t surprising at all.
To make things worse, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also issued an official announcement last year which reaffirms BPA’s alleged safety.
Upon 4-year reviewing of 300 studies, the FDA resolved that “BPA is safe at the current levels occurring in food.” The agency also stated that, “the available information continues to support the safety of BPA for the currently approved uses in food containers and packaging.” (!)
Common sense tells us that this verdict is more than likely a result of lobbying and “the revolving door” between the chemical industry and the FDA. IN FACT, there is appalling evidence against the use of BPA—particularly in food-containing products!
This is what the Newsweek announced about this:
“The agency… dismissed as irrelevant the vast majority of the BPA safety studies its own scientists reviewed in preparation for that official position statement…
In some cases, the reviewers’ notes don’t seem to match up with the FDA’s sweeping assertion that there’s nothing to see here. For instance, the reviewers wrote of one 2013 study.
These data support a plausible relationship between urinary BPA levels and obesity.
They say that another paper, regarding hyperactivity, ‘should be considered as part of the growing body of work assessing relationships between BPA exposure and behavior.’ But none of these seemingly concerning links are mentioned in the conclusion that BPA is safe.”
Or maybe the FDA’s finding is “in love” with the over $11 million spent on lobbying by the American Chemistry Council – in 2013 alone!
It could also be that they chose to selectively review industry-funded studies only, which are notoriously partial. For instance, in 2006, an analysis revealed that every industry-supported study found no significant effects from BPA. In ‘ugly’ contrast, 92% of studies without industry funding found that it did have bad effects.
BPA is dangerous even at low-level exposure
Although they don’t realize, most Americans have BPA in their blood, usually in the span of 1 part per billion (ppb). This could seem like too minute an amount to cause any significant problems, which is just what regulators and chemical companies alike have long accounted!
Yet, “endocrine disruptors like BPA, which act like hormones, don’t “play by the rules,” says Patricia Hunt, a geneticist at Washington State University.
According to Mrs. Hunt, “even exposure to low levels of BPA — levels that we think are in the realm of current human exposure — can profoundly affect both a man’s sperm developing woman eggs and.”
In one of Hunt’s studies, researchers found disruptions in egg development after rhesus monkeys [whose reproductive systems resemble the human ones] were exposed to either single doses daily of BPA, or low-level continuous doses. The BPA appeared to damage chromosomes, which could lead to spontaneous miscarriage or certain birth defects of the fetuses.
– Unlike the first group, the group exposed continuously to BPA, showed not only problems with initial egg development, but also in the fetal eggs that were developing. The fetal eggs were not “packaged” properly in the follicles, which certainly means that they could have difficulty in maturing and developing normally.
These are some of the serious health risks linked to BPA
BPA has been recognized to interfere with your body’s hormones and to disrupt your endocrine system. The glands of your endocrine system, as well as the hormones they release, affect almost every cell, organ, and function of the human body.
It is instrumental in regulating disposition, growth and development, tissue function, metabolism, sexual function and reproductive processes.
BPA has been linked to these health concerns, particularly in pregnant women, fetuses and young children, but in adults as well:
|Structural damage to your brain||Changes in gender-specific behavior, and abnormal sexual behavior|
|Hyperactivity, increased aggressiveness, and impaired learning||Early puberty, stimulation of mammary gland development, disrupted reproductive cycles, ovarian dysfunction, and infertility|
|Increased fat formation and risk of obesity||Stimulation of prostate cancer cells|
|Altered immune function||Increased prostate size and decreased sperm production|
Since the great deal of the research on BPA has involved studies on animals, this has lead skeptics in the chemical industry to argue that the effects may not necessarily be the same in humans. But research involving humans has shown similar risks.
For instance, BPA from plastic bottles and cans, can raise your blood pressure within just a few hours of ingestion the food they contain.
Phthalates may disrupt sex development of male fetus
BPA is only one endocrine-disrupting chemical to be scared of, but phthalates are another. According to estimates by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more than 470 million pounds of phthalates are created yearly.
They have primarily been used to make plastics [such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC)] more flexible and resilient, but they can also be found in air dryer sheets, room fresheners (ozonizers), and personal care products like makeups shampoos, and shower gels.
The Endocrine Society, at their annual meeting, presented a research showing that phthalate exposure during pregnancy may be linked to an abnormality in the distance between the anus and the scrotum in males (that is in the anogenital distance).
Phthalates are known to target hCG. This is what the researchers told the Washington Post: “Our study is the first to show that hCG is a target of phthalate exposure in early pregnancy and to confirm previous findings that it is a critical hormone in male development.”
Previous research has linked phthalate exposure to birth defects, low sperm count, polycystic ovary disease, and early or delayed puberty, just to name a few. Prenatal phthalate exposure may also lead to reduced IQ in children, and also an association between phthalate concentrations in the mother’s system during pregnancy and the child’s ability to concentrate has been found, including children’s working memory, their perceptual reasoning skills, and the time it takes them to process and retrieve information at the age of 7.
Reduce exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals with these tips
You can minimize this exposure by keeping these 15 key principles in mind:
1.Eat mostly fresh whole foods. Processed and packaged foods are a common source of BPA and phthalates—particularly cans, but also foods packaged in plastic wrap.
2. Buy products that come in glass bottles rather than plastic or cans.
3. Store your food and beverages in glass, rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap. Use glass containers if heating food in your microwave, as heat tends to increase the release of chemicals from plastic. Be aware that even BPA-free plastic typically leaches other endocrine-disrupting chemicals, just as bad as BPA.
4. Use glass baby bottles for your infants.
5. Be careful with cash register receipts. If you use a store regularly, encourage the management to switch to BPA-free receipts. I shop at Publix for my food and when I called them about the receipts it turns out they had already switched. Nevertheless it is wise to limit your contact with all these receipts.
6. Look for products that are made by companies that are earth-friendly, animal-friendly, sustainable, certified organic, and GMO-free. This applies to everything from food and personal care products to building materials, carpeting, paint, baby items, furniture, mattresses, and more. When redoing your home, look for “green,” toxin-free alternatives in lieu of regular paint and vinyl floor coverings, the latter of which is another source of phthalates.
7. Choose toys made from natural materials to avoid plastic chemicals like phthalates and BPA/BPS, particularly for items your child may be prone to suck or chew on.
8. Breastfeed your baby exclusively if possible, for at least the first year (as you will avoid phthalates exposure from infant formula packaging and plastic bottles/nipples).
9. Use natural cleaning products, or make your own.
10. Switch over to organic toiletries, including shampoos, toothpastes, antiperspirants, and cosmetics. EWG’s Skin Deep database can help you find personal care products that are free of phthalates and other potentially dangerous chemicals.
11. Replace your vinyl shower curtain with a fabric one.
12. Replace women hygiene products (tampons and sanitary pads) with safer alternatives. While most ingredients in feminine hygiene products are undisclosed, tests suggest they may contain dioxins and petrochemical additives.
13. Look for fragrance-free products; phthalates are often used to help the product hold its fragrance longer.
14. Avoid fabric softeners, dryer sheets, air fresheners, and scented candles for the same reason.
15. Check your home’s tap water for contaminants and filter the water if necessary. You may also want to use an alternative to PVC pipes for your water supply. A teach your children not to drink water from garden hoses!
The American Chemistry Council
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)