There has been a lot of focus on plastics containing BPA in the last 18 months and more recently in August this year, with popular aluminium drink bottle makers, Sigg, admitting that bottles made by them up until August 2008 contained BPA.
Even more recently, a story on Channel 7s Today Tonight (24th September 2009) highlights concerns over the use of BPA in babys bottles.
But what exactly is BPA, why does it have such a bad reputation, what types of products contain it and how can we as consumers identify these items?
WHAT IS BPA?
BPA is the abbreviation used for Bisphenol A. It is a key building block in the production of synthetic resins and polycarbonate plastics.
WHY THE BAD REPUTATION?
Bisphenol A acts an endocrine disruptor, which means it can mimic the bodys own hormones potentially leading to negative health effects.
Concerns with bisphenol A were first raised as a result of research conducted in the 1930s, however the adverse effects from its endocrine disrupting properties were only first reported in 1997 and have since been extensively investigated with more than 100 published studies raising health concerns about the chemical.
The results from the various BPA research suggest that the greatest period of sensitivity to its effects is in early development (i.e. babies and infants), and it has been linked to obesity and breast cancer.
Bisphenol A has been known to leach from the plastic lining of canned foods as well as from polycarbonate plastics, even more so where they are cleaned with harsh detergents or used to contain acidic or high-temperature liquids.
Regulatory bodies have determined safety levels for humans, but those safety levels are continually being reviewed as the result of new scientific studies becoming available.
On the 12 May 2009 a study was published in the journal “Environmental Health Perspectives” entitled “Use of Polycarbonate Bottles and Urinary Bisphenol A Concentrations”. The study concluded that the concentration of BPA in the urine of 77 college age students increased following ingestion of cold beverages in polycarbonate drinking bottles. Background levels of BPA in urine were reduced by avoiding consumption of fluids from polycarbonate drinking vessels for one week (a washout phase).
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has reviewed this study and has concluded that it only confirms that inactive BPA excreted in urine may be derived from polycarbonate plastics drinking. FSANZ believes that this study does not indicate that these levels of BPA pose a risk to human health as BPA is effectively deactivated (turned into a safe form) in the liver and then excreted in inactive form in the urine.
However, this raises some questions such as why subject our liver to processing this totally foreign synthetic material in the first place, and where is the proof that 100% of the BPA that enters our system is excreted?
WHAT TYPES OF PRODUCTS CONTAIN BPA?
BPA is found in items or containers that come into contact with foodstuffs such as:
Polycarbonate Plastic – drinking vessels, baby bottles and plastic tableware
Synthetic Resins – coatings on the inside of almost all food and beverage cans
HOW DO WE IDENTIFY ITEMS THAT INCLUDE BPA?
There are seven classes used to identify plastics used in packaging applications. Type 7 is the catch-all “other” class, and it includes polycarbonate (sometimes identified with the letters “PC” near the recycling symbol) and synthetic resins.
Type 3 (PVC) can also contain bisphenol A as antioxidant in plasticisers.
Types 1 (PET), 2 (HDPE), 4 (LDPE), 5 (polypropylene), and 6 (polystyrene) do not use bisphenol A during polymerization or package forming.
NOW ITS UP TO YOU
So that is BPA simplified..now the choice of whether you use plastic containing it is up to you!
GreenUrLife focuses on providing alternatives to using all types of plastic, not only from a health perspective but also from the impact it has on landfill. Any products we sell that do contain plastic, such as the lids for our Klean Kanteen drink bottles are made from polypropylene (type 5 plastic) and are BPA free.
* Food Standards Australia website
* Wikipedia website
* Klean Kanteen website
* Sigg website