BPA in Plastic: Threat or Hype?

Many plastic bottles lately boast “BPA free” labels.It seems to be a hot issue in the world of plastics. Should you avoid BPA? Is this a fad with no basis in science?

What’s the Deal with BPA?

To sum up, The US Department of Health and Human Services’ website states about BPA that “newer studies have led federal health officials to express some concern about the safety of BPA (1).”

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Bisphenol-A (BPA), the product that is garnering all of this consumer and industry attention, is a chemical that’s been used in the manufacture of plastics for over 40 years. Recently, however, research has shown signs that BPA could be harming humans. According to wikipedia, BPA has weak but detectable hormone-like properties which are of special concern for fetuses and children. Research has indicated that effects for adults are possible, as well. BPA’s properties are being further investigated for their possible ability affect developing brains, prostate glands, and other outcomes. With the CDC finding BPA present in almost all humans tested in a large scale sample (3), it’s understandable why we all would want to understand it better.

What to Do?

Should we run from BPA? Odds appear strongest that any effects on adults are minimal. The largest concern is effect of BPA on human development, and even then, there are many questions about how BPA could affect humans and numerous questions surrounding the applicability of the preliminary studies. This is the type of issue that is ripe for being overblown, nevertheless, some concern is reported by the FDA (1).

The FDA reports that BPA is present in cans of liquid infant formula, since plastics are commonly used to line aluminum cans. They do not recommend avoiding those products, yet the US government continues to investigate it’s impact on the bodies of infants and adults. Meanwhile, the FDA supports the discontinued use of BPA in newly manufactured products.

Eden Foods (see photo below), a natural foods producer, manufactures and touts their cans lined with BPA-free plastic (2).

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Do Eden Foods‘ canned products cost more? Yes. A quick scan of prices indicates that they cost about 75 cents more per can. With little evidence that BPA affects adults, the most common consumers of Eden’s products, it may or may not be a fair price. Luckily, you at least have more options for being BPA free.

(1) http://www.hhs.gov/safety/bpa/
(2) http://www.edenfoods.com/articles/view.php?articles_id=178
(3) http://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport/BisphenolA_FactSheet.html

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