There is a lot of controversy surrounding the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is a suspected endocrine disruptor which has properties similar to estrogen and is found in many different types of common containers including:
- Polycarbonate plastic baby bottles
- Polycarbonate plastic water bottles
- Food cans (soups, beans)
- Beverage cans (soft drinks, soda)
There is a divide between the plastics industry which says BPA is safe and critics who say that it is a health risk. Critics claim that BPA can increase your risk of certain cancers, cause fertility problems and contribute to behavioral problems in children. The majority of government funded studies found some of the following side effects from BPA:
- Increased prostate size
- Decreased sperm count
- Early onset of puberty
- Hormonal changes
- Behavioral problems
- Estrogen level changes
It has been proven that BPA does “leach” from bottles and cans into food and liquids. The plastics industry does not deny that BPA does leach which results in it being ingested, but they claim that these levels are well within guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency.
There are seven different labels for plastics:
- 1 PETE: Commonly used in soft drink, juice and water containers.
- 2 HDPE: Commonly used in opaque plastic milk and water jugs.
- 3 PVC or V: Commonly used for cling wrap.
- 4 LDPE: Commonly used in grocery store bags and plastic wraps.
- 5 PP: Commonly used in “cloudy” plastic containers such as baby bottles.
- 6 PS: Commonly used in disposable cups and Styrofoam.
- 7 Other: Usually polycarbonate. Commonly used in most plastic baby bottles, clear plastic sippy cups and water bottles.
As a general rule of thumb, you should use bottles and containers that are labeled 1, 2, 4 or 5. Avoid using bottles and containers labeled 3, 6 or 7.
Unfortunately, the majority of plastic baby bottles and sippy cups are made of polycarbonate and this includes most of the big name brand bottles. Reacting to customer concerns, some major retail chains and manufacturers have begun to voluntarily ban the use of BPA in certain products that they carry/manufacture, such as baby bottles. These companies include (but are not limited to): Safeway, Toys R Us, Walmart and Whole Foods.
The good news is that there are alternative bottles that you can use which are made of glass, polyethylene or polypropylene. Look for "milky colored" plastic bottles as these do not contain polycarbonates. If you do need to use polycarbonate bottles:
- Throw away bottles that are old and/or scratched. When plastic is worn, BPA will leach more easily.
- Avoid using polycarbonate containers in the microwave.
- Avoid cleaning with harsh detergents as this will cause the plastic to wear.
- Avoid placing high temperature liquids in polycarbonate containers.
As mentioned above, there is a lot of controversy and conflicting reports regarding BPA. This will probably continue to be a hot topic for some time to come and it is clear that more research is needed.To find more information about Bisphenol-A free baby bottles, visit the Baby Review Center.