If you haven't heard the news about BPA (bisphenol-A), it's a highly
controversial chemical used in a number of products. It's been banned or
strictly regulated in countries including China, France and Canada.
And, finally, the U.S. has banned it from infant bottles and sippy cups.
But because it isn't a food ingredient and doesn't have to be labeled,
how can you know where it's hiding?
In this respect, BPA is a bit
like another controversial unlabeled health risk: genetically modified
foods. The only way to know if your foods are GMO-free is to look for
labels that say so. (And some even mislead with that statement as I
discuss in my expose on 'genewashing'.)
The same is true for BPA. Manufacturers that go out of their way to
eliminate BPA often indicate this on packaging. But since the product is
so common, it's likely you're getting exposed to it despite best
efforts to avoid it.
Read more about GMOs
is an endocrine disruptor that mimics human hormones. This causes a
whole bunch of problems in the body including obesity, early onset
puberty, fertility issues, immune problems and even certain types of
Avoid BPA by knowing where it's hiding. Here are five of the most common sources:
1. Canned foods:
This includes canned sodas and beers as well. BPA is used in the can
lining, and highly acidic or oil-based foods are more likely to pull the
chemical out of the liner, but all foods in BPA containers are at risk
of contamination. Avoid canned products or opt for those that are
BPA-free. A good indicator is the #7 recycling imprint on the bottom of
products. Look for alternatives in jars, tetrapaks, or, make your own
2. Old Tupperware: If
you have Tupperware made before March 2010, you might want to consider
replacing it. The company finally switched to BPA-free plastics after 60
years of producing its patented food containers with the chemical.
Tupperware is often handed down from generation to generation, but do
yourself (and the next generation) a favor and opt for glass or ceramic
3. Ditch the register receipt: That's
right, your register receipt most likely contains BPA. Those soft
receipts that seem kind of silky? That's BPA, and it's volatile in that
state. If you do need your receipt, have it tossed in your bag and make
sure you touch it as little as possible.
4. Dental work: As if you didn't already hate the dentist enough, the American Dental Association
has this to say about BPA: "BPA might be found in dental composites and
sealants for two reasons: 1) it’s a by-product of other ingredients in
dental composites and sealants that have degraded, and; 2) it’s a trace
material left-over from the manufacture of other ingredients used in
dental composites and sealants. ADA research, confirmed by direct
communications from dental material manufacturers, indicates that BPA is
not used as a formula ingredient in dental materials." There are plenty
of reasons to look for a holistic dentist, and you can certainly add
this to the list. Talk with you dentist before major procedures about
the risks of BPA.
5. Children's toys: Plastic is a
go-to choice for children's toys and products because they don't
shatter and can take a bit of abuse. But they're also one of the most
common places to find BPA. Fortunately, like with food, many
manufacturers are now offering BPA-free products. You can also look for
alternatives to plastic altogether such as wood, rubber or fabric.
Image: Telstar Logistics