For a few years now, we have all heard about the BPA-free products that have begun to appear on store shelves throughout the country. While the BPA-free movement is in full swing, how many of us actually understand why it might be important to avoid this somewhat mysterious substance?
What is BPA?
Let’s start with the basics. BPA stands for “Bisphenol A.” It is a chemical that has frequently used to make various forms of plastic since the 1960s. It can be found in everything from water bottles to DVDs to sporting equipment.
Is BPA Dangerous?
This is where the debate begins. Many governmental organizations, such as the FDA, the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Food, and the United Kingdom Food Standards Agency, have classified BPA as safe for use in household items. (See the BPA Global Group’s website for additional information.) The FDA released an additional study today, indicating that low doses of BPA did not cause adverse developmental changes in rats, further bolstering the claim that the product is, in fact, safe.
On the other hand, the anti-BPA movement is still running strong. In fact, California announced today that is passed the Toxin-Free Infants and Toddlers Act, which bans the use of BPA in both “baby bottles and sippy cups.” Renee Sharp, head of the Environmental Working Group office in California, indicated that studies finding adverse effects resulting from BPA use outnumber those finding no problems by a nine-to-one ratio. This announcement comes only a week after Connecticut became the first state in the country to pass an anti-BPA law. On September 30, 2011, Connecticut enacted a law which makes it illegal to use BPA in the manufacture of baby formula, plastic sports bottles, and thermoses.
When in doubt, ask the Mayo Clinic.
According to the Mayo Clinic, concerns about BPA exposure have arisen when evidence surfaced that BPA could make its way into our food and beverages when consumed from containers made with the substance. However, it seems as though the jury is still out. The Mayo Clinic indicates that studies are still being conducted and that there is not enough evidence on either side to draw a conclusion at this time.
What to do in the meantime:
If you are concerned about products containing BPA, take a look at the labels on many plastic products you purchase. Many BPA-free products are now advertised as such. You can also call around to local stores to see if any establishments are now committing to sell more (or only) BPA-free merchandise. Kroger, a national supermarket chain, made this commitment quite recently.