Tag Archives: Bisphenol-A

Is There Such a Thing As “Safe” Plastics? Are We Sure?

I think most parents these days know that there are issues with plastics containing bisphenol-A (BPA). There’s a reason why more and more plastic goods, especially those aimed at children, are being advertised as BPA-free. But is that really enough? Are other types of plastic safer?

The problem with BPA is that it’s estrogenic – that is, it mimics estrogen in the body. You don’t want that, and naturally parents are picky about such things going into the bodies of their children. That’s why there was such a fuss that manufacturers decided to use other plastics which don’t contain BPA.

Does that mean other plastics are safe? Unfortunately, that’s questionable, according to a new study.

It’s a long study, an interesting read if you like that sort of thing, but here’s the basic result: almost all plastics leach chemicals that have estrogenic activity (EA). Some BPA-free products released chemicals with more estrogenic activity than plastics with BPA.

So much for the much-vaunted BPA-free plastics.

Not all of the plastics released chemicals with EA at first, but common uses such as putting them in the microwave or dishwasher increased the release.

What Should Parents Do?

Now of course more study should be done, but heck, folks, you have options other than plastic. Not like we have to serve or save foods in plastic. There are options. Plastic, after all, isn’t that good a deal environmentally speaking anyhow.

You can use glass or stainless steel containers and dishes when possible, for example. You may not be able to avoid plastics in your dishes entirely, but there are options such as Klean Kanteen’s sippy bottle which at least minimizes the use of plastic. It uses some, but they say it’s supposed to be non-leaching and is BPA-free, for what that’s worth. It’s still less plastic than other sippy cups where the drink is held in a plastic cup rather than a stainless steel bottle.

Don’t put any plastic dishes or containers you have in the microwave or dishwasher. It’s the heat that increases the leaching. Use glass or other safe materials in the microwave.

It’s tough to serve young children with breakable dishes, but you do have alternatives. You can buy stainless steel dishes or look for tempered glass dishes, which are significantly stronger than regular glass dishes. Wood is another option, although it may be more difficult to care for.

I get a lot of my glass storage containers from bottles of spaghetti sauce. The shape is a bit awkward, and doesn’t work for everything, but it’s a place to start. There are glass storage containers you can buy if you want more practical shapes.

And on the plus side, if you just can’t give up your plastic yet, leaching does decrease over time. It’s not perfect, and the exposure still happens, but at least the numbers go down.

Plastic toys are good to avoid, but in terms of leaching, the best thing is to not let your kids put plastic toys in their mouth. That won’t stop all exposure, as little hands go in little mouths, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Don’t Panic

Estrogenic compounds may well be worth avoiding, but it’s not something to panic about. Take your time, think about it, and do what’s practical for you. I don’t know if it would work, but if you want to leach out some of the chemicals before exposing your family, you could always expose your plastics to known stressors several times before use. I have no idea how often is enough, so don’t ask. There are sources of BPA exposure beyond the plastics you can choose whether or not to use, so this is mostly a matter of limiting it where you can.

It may also help to remember that there are many risks in life that we can’t control. That’s just the way it is. It’s still a good idea to think about your exposure to chemicals leached from plastic, but it’s not panic-worthy.

Are Plastic Water Bottles Safe?

There’s been a lot of controversy in recent times about the presence of  Bisphenol-A (BPA) in certain kinds of plastic. According to a new study from scientists in Germany, kinds of plastic that were previously thought safe may also contain substances that interfere with reproductive hormones. The results aren’t definite yet, but it’s something to keep an eye on.

Glass and stainless steel look better every day.

All in all I’m glad I don’t use plastic water bottles, especially the disposable ones. The waste and the question of what’s leeching into the water isn’t something I want to spend a lot of time thinking about.

It was also quite interesting to note that they tested two cardboard boxes similar to juice boxes. Those also apparently showed signs of the compound. However, they also showed in some of the glass bottle water samples taken, so it’s possible that some of the problem related more to the water itself.

Call it another argument in favor of tap water.

Finding Products Without Bisphenol-A

Since I’ve been doing a series of posts on BPA, I figured it was time to include a list of products you can use that don’t contain it. Glass, obviously, but many plastics also don’t have it, and can sometimes be the simplest solution… so long as you mean to keep it for a very long time, and perhaps give to someone else when you’re done with it.

That’s the chronic problem I have with plastics. You do better by reusing them, but eventually they’re still a problem. How I look forward to good plastic recycling, not the picky sort of plastic recycling many places have now!

Water Bottles

I use a water bottle daily myself. It’s Nalgene, which means I’m going to have to replace it one of these days now that I know it has BPA in it. That wasn’t something I’d heard about at the time of purchase, so it seemed to be a good decision at the time. Live and learn. Thank goodness they’re dropping the BPA now.

Sigg and Klean Kanteen look to be good options. I’ve heard there’s some question about what Sigg’s liners are made of, as they won’t share the details. That means it will most likely be Klean Kanteen.

Lunch Boxes

I pack my daughter’s lunch for school pretty much every day. My goal for next year is to get her a Laptop Lunches lunch box. I love the number of containers it has to make it easier to separate the various parts of my daughter’s lunches.

The Henry’s by me carries something along those same lines, so I may investigate and buy it on one of my regular shopping trips there. The packaging has a little cuter styling, which may be more appealing to my daughter. Just have to see if I can check on the BPA and/or lead thing.

Baby Bottles, Pacifiers and More

There are a few options for if you want to get supplies for your baby that are BPA-free. One is to shop around your area to find glass bottles and silicone nipples and pacifiers.

But I also found that a general search on Amazon.com for BPA turns up all kinds of supplies that do not have BPA in them. After all, who’s going to describe their merchandise as having BPA? You can also search the Baby section for terms such as silicone to get silicone nipples and pacifiers.

Even if you don’t buy online it’s one way to find out what brands you want to shop for locally, and that can be a real time saver.

Bisphenol-A is the Word

At least, it’s the word I’m hearing more and more about these days. It has come to the attention of a lot of people that plastics made with it may not be as safe as claimed. In fact, Canada is looking at regulating or banning it.

Sounds good to me. It seems like we’re taking an awful chance by insisting that it’s safe enough.

Now I know it probably isn’t leaching into my food or drinks enough to matter. But the trouble with saying it’s probably safe is that it’s admitting we don’t quite know. And when there are alternatives that are more likely to be safe, it just makes more sense to me to go with those.

It’s going to mean some changes for me. My desk water bottle is made of Nalgene, which contains Bisphenol-A. Once I have the money, it’s getting replaced. I learned long since not to use a glass often at my desk. I ruined two keyboards that way. I’m thinking of getting a Klean Kanteen when the time comes, or maybe a Sigg, although I gather Sigg won’t say what their liner is.

I particularly want you to think about this quote from Energy and Commerce Chair John Dingell that I read over on TreeHugger:

“There are serious health concerns about whether Bisphenol A is safe, not only for adults, but for children and infants,” and is concerned that the Food and Drug Administration’s policies on BPA are “entirely dependent on two studies’ that are both funded by a subsidiary of the American Chemistry Council, which represents plastic resins manufacturers.”

It seems to me that we’ve been burned by that kind of a situation before.  Of course the manufacturers’ studies show that it’s safe enough. So long as the dangers aren’t too obvious, it’s easy to say that. But what about long term?

Anyone really enjoy being a lab rat?

Yes, I suppose this does sound a little paranoid or some such. But I’ve given this a lot of thought, and it just makes sense to me to allow caution to rule.