Posted on May 6, 2011 - by

BPA: Ubiquitous, Toxic…and (for you) Avoidable

Image: flickr/stevendepolo

You’ll never see it on an ingredient label, but chances are you’ve consumed bisphenol-A (BPA) in your food or drinks this week. The chemical is ubiquitous, found in everything from food can linings and plastic drink containers to receipts and DVDs. It is one of the most widely manufactured chemicals in history: more than 6 billion pounds of it are produced yearly. The problem? BPA can and does leach from those can linings and plastic containers. As a consequence, roughly 90% of Americans carry measurable amounts of BPA in our bodies at any given time. Why should you care? It’s toxic, and may be affecting your health.

Hundreds of research studies have shown that the chemical mimics the hormone estrogen in the body, disrupting the natural functioning of the hormonal system. This is serious cause for concern. Higher concentrations of BPA in the body have been associated with recurrent miscarriages, altered gendered behaviors in children, and altered hormone levels in men. Workers who had been exposed to BPA on the job reported significantly higher rates of erectile dysfunction than those who had not been. Other studies have linked it to heart disease, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders.

In response to this growing body of evidence, Canada added BPA to its list of toxic chemicals in 2010, paving the way for a complete ban on its use in that country. Canada has already banned the chemical in plastic baby bottles, and a similar ban in the EU went into force this March. In the US, intense lobbying on the part of the chemical industry has stalled or killed bills that would ban BPA’s use plastic food packaging, drink containers, baby bottles, and sippy cups (though some states have passed such measures on their own).

Some food companies and product manufacturers have responded to public outcry by removing BPA from some or all of their products. Heinz and ConAgra have both pledged to remove BPA from all their products in the future and have developed a timeline for doing so. Toys R Us, Target, and Sears are among the national retail chains phasing out baby bottles that contain BPA.

At FRESH, we’ve launched a campaign to pressure Walmart to remove BPA from its products. If they commit to phasing out BPA, it will effectively force the entire packaging industry to change. Walmart lead the way when it banned baby bottles with BPA, and it’s time they did the same with food packaging. Click here to sign our petition for BPA-free products at Walmart.

In the meantime, there are several simple steps you can take to reduce your exposure to BPA.  Find out here.

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We'd love to hear yours!

  1. Corey Andreasen said:

    Actually, the idea that BPA is toxic and is leaching out of containers has been thoroughly debunked.

    So, while I’m all for getting Walmart and other big retailers to push for healthy practices, BPA is not shown to be a problem. Data is a wonderful thing.

  2. DGF said:

    Unfortunately, the citing of a 2008 “statsbuster” site that refers to only one study is not strong enough to dissuade me, or…The Endocrine Society, NIH, Yale, EPA, or any number of more learned entities on the subject than you or I.

    Data is indeed a wonderful thing, when understood.

  3. Anonymous said:

    Plastic is bad for you anyway, even without BPA. Just stop buying processed food.

  4. Anonymous said:

    Data is good but only if it is tested data. That’s normally just a hypothesis until it’s tested with the same result again and again. BPA was created in the 20’s as a synthetic estrogen. When we decided to put it in most of our food containers we should’ve known what the original purpose of it was.

  5. treehugger said:

    The article on stats states the European food council said the US “attack” on BPA was unjust. And actually the European Union just banned BPA. Are they really saying BPA is safe?