What is BPA?
BPA stands for bisphenol A. BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins for well over 50 years now. BPA is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are commonly used for storing food and drink,like water bottles. Over the time frame that it has been used and the extent of products which have used it research has found that small quantities can be found in the urine of most adults around the world. Research indicates that BPA can seep into food and drink from the containers that are made with plastics using BPA. Certain circumstances such as heating the plastic containers up are also thought to greatly increase the risks of BPA seeping into the items to be consumed.
What are the effects of BPA?
There is a lot of research linking Bisphenol A to a range of serious health concerns, although it is still important to note that no single study conclusively proves that BPA is harmful to humans. Some of these include increasing the risk of certain cancers, reduced fertility, diabetes and birth defects. It is believed that BPA may mimic hormones and interfere with the endocrine system of glands, which release hormones around the body, hence the potentially wide ranging risks identified. For more details on this the NHS have gathered information in a page named 'Questions raised over BPA plastic' which you can read here.
How do you avoid BPA?
There is a growing call to stop manufacturing plastics with BPA and using BPA in food containers as there are less hazardous alternatives.
Individuals may find it hard to avoid BPA completely. They can choose products that do not have BPA in them but this is not necessarily going to be obvious through labeling or information on the container. As it stands, here in the UK the Food Standards Agency state that 'we deem that it is a safe chemical for use in production of plastics' so no ban or special label/information is needed of BPA inclusive items.
However, many large companies such as Nalgene, a brand that became internationally renowned for making water bottles from hard, clear and nearly unbreakable polycarbonate, have stopped using BPA plastic because of growing concern over this chemical ingredient. Some countries, such as Canada, and some individual States in the US have actually designated BPA as a toxic chemical which restricts its use and mean that products have to be labeled accordingly.
BPA-free water bottles reduce the associated risks by removing the BPA chemical from their materials. BPA-free water bottles can be used without the risk of BPA consumption.