What is BPA? Why is it bad? What can I do?

by Charise Rohm Nulsen

This week, I would like to focus on BPA for my Growing Greener feature. When we buy baby products, we are all aware at this point that it is important to buy “BPA free” but does that mean our families are safe from BPA? And what is BPA anyway?

What is BPA?
According to the authors of a study on BPA in food packaging study, BPA or Bisphenol A is a chemical used to make linings of food cans which forms a protective barrier between the metal of a can and the food. Wikipedia further explains: “Bisphenol A is used primarily to make plastics, and products containing bisphenol A-based plastics have been in commerce use since 1957.[12] At least 8 billion pounds of BPA are used by manufacturers yearly.

Why is it bad?
According to the BPA and food packaging study mentioned above, 93% of Americans have detectable levels of BPA in their bodies. The authors of this study further explain that BPA is an endocrine disrupter so it disrupts hormone systems. Studies suggest that it might play a role in breast cancer, prostate cancer, infertility, early puberty, obesity, diabetes, and ADD/ADHD.

What can I do?
The potential effects of BPA are scary, but we don’t have to be unwilling victims. There are many things we can do to limit our families’ exposure to this compound.

Know where BPA is commonly found. According to Wikipedia:
- Plastic baby bottle
- Plastic water bottles
- Sports equipment
- Medical and dental devices
- Dental fillings and sealants
- Eyeglasses lenses
- CDs and DVDs
- Household electronics
- Almost all food and beverage cans
- Receipt paper
- Water pipe lining

If BPA is in all of these things, how can I reduce exposure???
The Breast Cancer Fund recommends that you avoid these 10 canned foods:
1. Coconut milk
2. Soup
3. Meat
4. Vegetables
5. Meals (e.g., ravioli in sauce)
6. Juice
7. Fish
8. Beans
9. Meal-replacement drinks
10. Fruit

Is it really worth it just to avoid these canned foods?
Yes! The aforementioned BPA and food packaging study showed that five families lowered their BPA levels by about 60% when they consumed only the fresh foods (not packaged in cans or plastic) given to them by the researchers over the course of only three days!

The study authors encourage everyone to buy BPA free products, avoid foods that are packaged in cans and plastic whenever possible, store your food in stainless steel or glass containers, and avoid microwaving food in plastic containers.

We’ve demanded BPA-free baby bottles and now we all have that option, but we need to let the government know that we will no longer stand for BPA in our food packaging either.

Challenge yourself to avoid BPA for a week and see how it goes! Let’s make the small choices that have big health results for our families!

For more information on how you can protect your family from BPA, check out these resources on Healthy Child Healthy World’s web site.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jessica | Cloth Diapering Mama April 4, 2011 at 2:37 pm

its so scary that we are realizing the harm of BPA after we were using it for YEARS!!!!!! That is a great list of canned foods to avoid!! I guess it just brings us back to the farm for our shopping…now will it be CSA or Farmers market (like in your Sunday Surf!!)…. excellent post,!

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2 Carol April 4, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Thank you for such an informative article. There are so many choices we can make to live a healthier life style but some of these choices are not known. For example purchasing canned food, especially vegetables to promote good health and then to learn later on the lining in the can is toxic. It’s frustrating that the companies would even use a product that is harmful to our health. We need to go back to the basics and get rid of the toxins effecting our environment. Thanks again!
Carol recently posted..Papas Tribal Cafe- A Single Parents Guide To Nurturing Rainbow WarriorsMy Profile

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3 Tara@BPA-free baby products April 4, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Great job giving an overview of BPA, how to find it and what to do. I saw that same study and blogged about it on Saturday myself. I love the idea of challenging our friends and families (and ourselves) to get rid of BPA. BPA is so pervasive, particular in children’s products. It’s in plastic toys, teething rings, teething toys, sippy cups, bottles (although fewer than before, thanks to lots of parent action), playpens pads, vinyl diaper bags and diaper changing pads, crib mattress covers, you name it! It’s important to find baby products labeled BPA-free and to try to cut out BPA in our bodies. BPA and phthalates act as synthetic estrogens in the body and are linked to early onset puberty in boys and girls, enlarged breasts in boys, smaller testes in boys, lower sperm count in men, miscarriage in women, and other reproductive disorders. Let’s not fear BPA, though, let’s find it–and get it the heck out of our families.
Tara@BPA-free baby products recently posted..Study Shows You Can Minimize BPA in Your LifeMy Profile

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4 Michelle April 4, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Thank you for putting up such an informative post! I think I knew some of these details, but so few people are talking about the harms of BPA, it’s always good to learn more and reinforce what we already know.

I’m following from the Blog Hop. Come visit me back!

Michelle @ Things Sent My Way

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5 Michelle Steiner April 5, 2011 at 6:25 am

Perhaps another good reason to visit your local Farmers Market, and buy fresh veggies from your local growers? Great Article, thanks for sharing.
Michelle Steiner recently posted..A Busy Day on the RanchMy Profile

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6 Amy Gatzemeyer December 1, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Thanks for the information! Do you know if soups that come in boxes are also affected? It seems that many of the organic soups come in those boxes. I was just wondering because the Breast Fund Council was specific to cans. (Also- some of those soups are yummy and perfect for fast nights!!)
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7 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama December 5, 2011 at 10:17 am

Amy, that’s a great question! The soups in boxes do not contain BPA. It’s the chemicals in the linings of the cans that’s the problem.

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8 Nathan Woodbury@Dental Website Design January 12, 2012 at 3:37 am

Thanks for the information. This is really a great help most especially to mothers who are using bottle feedings to their child. This is so scary cause this might affect your health thus putting you in danger.

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9 Vicki February 2, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Thanks for the information. I use a foodsaver system. The one I have is starting to show signs that it tired of working. While reading reviews for the different systems, I found a post of a bad review. The man wrote that the foodsaver bags are made with BPA and the company is not going to change it. So as long as the company is making the bags with BPA he will not be purchasing the foodsaver system. As I had absolutely no clue what BPA was, I certainly had no clue of the dangers associated with it. I wonder if this is where my son’s ADHD comes in to play. At any rate, thank you for the info!

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