It used to be the case that you’d grab a bottle of water from the fridge to sip on the way to work, pack your leftovers in a plastic container, and give your baby some milk in a plastic bottle – all without thinking twice about your health. Then we started to hear about plastic containing Bisphenol A (BPA). But what it is, and why are plastics containing BPA so harmful to your health?
According to information from the NSF International and the Centers for Disease Control, Bisphenol A is “an industrial chemical used to make polycarbonate plastics.” These plastics can be found anywhere and in products we use on a daily basis such as refillable beverage receptacles, protective linings in food cans, CDs, plastic serving ware, impact resistant safety equipment and epoxy resins.For the most part, we wouldn’t go a normal day without encountering at least a few of those on the list. However, people are generally exposed to BPA when it seeps from materials that are in contact with food or drinking water.
About plastics and pregnancy
Now, ladies, listen up. According to the National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals by the CDC: “When laboratory test animals are dosed during pregnancy, BPA has been shown to have hormone-like effects on the developing reproductive system and neurobehavioral changes in the offspring.”Scientists continue to debate whether effects could possibly occur in people who are exposed to low environmental levels of these chemicals. More research is needed to assess the human health effects of exposure to these chemicals.”However, it is known, though an analysis from the CDC published in 2007, that scientists detected BPA in nearly 93 percent of people tested (age six and older), which “indicates widespread exposure to BPA in the U.S. population.”
Protect yourself – and your baby
It doesn’t hurt to be extra vigilant when it comes to your health and that of your unborn baby! Here are a few tips to help you avoid BPA-contaminated products:
- Look for the BPA-free symbol when purchasing new plastics. Ditch the water bottles (they are bad for the environment anyway) and purchase a high-quality BPA-free refillable stainless steel vessel.
- Switch baby from regular plastic baby bottles to the BPA-free variety or old-fashioned glass bottles. If he’s taking formula, choose the powered variety, which may not have BPA in the packaging versus the liquid kind, according to the Environmental Working Group.
- Rinse canned fruit or vegetables with water before heating and serving to hopefully lessen BPA ingestion.
- Avoid microwaving food in plastic containers — use microwave-safe glass or ceramic instead.