Tag Archives: BPA

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.

Time to Give Up on Aluminum Water Bottles?

If you decided to get an aluminum water bottle to avoid waste, and perhaps BPA, there’s a bit of rather frustrating news out today that I came across on Twitter. The Z Recommends website reports that Gaiam’s supposedly BPA-free aluminum water bottles leach far more BPA than Sigg’s bottles did.

Somehow oops doesn’t cover it.

Makes me really glad to have my daughter using a Klean Kanteen. She loves it, and it puts up with the abuse she gives it at school, which is plenty. Hers is going on a year old and has some small dents, mostly around the bottom, but is otherwise still in good shape. I just like that there’s no question of what kind of coating is inside, as stainless steel doesn’t need one.

It’s sad that you can’t always trust a company’s claims about the safety of its products, especially when they lie about specific selling points. But you can remember who gets caught in a lie.

After This Revelation from Sigg, I’m Glad I Went with Klean Kanteen

Back when I bought my daughter’s Klean Kanteen (and we have one now for my husband to bring to work too), I took a long time deciding which brand to buy. Sigg’s a huge name, but in the end I chose Klean Kanteen because I would sooner trust stainless steel than coated aluminum.

Now that Sigg has admitted that their bottle liners do contain but not release BPA, I’m glad I did.

I thought they were wording things in a rather interesting way when I was doing my research. It was always about BPA not being released, very carefully avoiding answering the question of if it was present at all.

BPA doesn’t worry me that much a lot of ways, but there are enough questions about it that I would just as soon avoid it out of principle. Besides, you damage the coating you get exposed to aluminum, which has its own problems.

Now Sigg has admitted that they’ve had to change their liner formula to get rid of BPA. There are some really great articles on how all this went over on Z Recommends, Tree Hugging Family and Non Toxic Kids.

This kind of thing is a huge mistake for any company to make. Just because your evasive answer may have been technically accurate doesn’t mean people won’t feel betrayed when more information comes out. No one likes to feel as though they’ve been tricked.

Sigg’s going to have to do some repair work on their reputation after this mess.

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.

Do the Little Things Matter?

I often write about the little stuff you can do to live a greener life. But when it comes down to it, how much does all that matter? Doesn’t what the big companies do far outweigh what we individuals control?

Sure. But that doesn’t mean the small stuff isn’t important.

The small things do add up. A single compact fluorescent lightbulb isn’t going to make much of a difference in the carbon output of the world. But all of us together changing over to CFLs where possible will make a difference. Still a smaller difference than many industries could make, but a difference nonetheless.

compact fluorescent bulb

And then there are all the little things you can do that will matter to your family. Buying organic, local or growing your own garden gives your family the chance to eat better foods. It’s something that can matter to you as an individual as well as be kinder to the environment.

I pack my daughter’s school lunch every day in reusable containers. Do I really think it’s going to make a big difference? No, but it makes some difference. Less plastic wasted. Fewer paper bags thrown out. Better control over the kinds of foods my daughter eats.

And then there’s trying to avoid BPA. This can be a tough one, since some argue whether or not it’s even an issue. The FDA doesn’t have a problem with it after all. But there’s still that potential for it to work as an endocrine disruptor. Canada banned it for that possibility. Should we do less for our families just because it’s a small effect, possibly even not an effect at all?

If it’s a choice between a big thing and a little thing, of course, take care of the big things. Fortunately many of the little things really don’t take much time, and can even just be a part of your regular lifestyle.