BPA and Plastics: What is BPA-Free?

what is bpa free
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / pasja1000

BPA is a common component of plastic and is associated with many health risks. Learning what is BPA-free can help you avoid these negative side effects.

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a chemical compound that is found in many plastic products. First introduced in the 1950s, BPA is used in many common household items, including plastic bottles and food containers. Despite its ubiquity, many health risks have been associated with this chemical. BPA-free products have therefore become more and more popular. You can read on to learn more about the potential harms of BPA, and how you can identify BPA-free items in order to avoid them.

Is BPA Bad for You?

BPA is a common component of many food packaging products, including reusable food containers.
BPA is a common component of many food packaging products, including reusable food containers. (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Hans)

BPA is still approved for use in many items, including for food packaging. As of now, the FDA has only retracted its approval for BPA in the use of baby bottles and infant food packaging, however, this decision was based on market popularity (or lack thereof), not on safety. Nonetheless, plastic containers shed small amounts of BPA over time, which you can unwittingly consume. Since there have been several studies connecting BPA and negative health effects, there may be good reasons for avoiding this compound.

Several animal studies have found a causal relationship between BPA and health issues. One study looking at newborn rhesus monkeys linked maternal exposure to BPA with increased growth in the mammary glands. Another study found that BPA could reduce spatial memory and neural connectivity in mice, causing learning deficits in exposed animals.

Similarly, epidemiological studies on humans have found an association between BPA exposure and several health issues, including decreased sperm quality, increased risk of miscarriage, and increased risk of asthma. Although BPA is still considered safe for use according to the FDA, these reasons may dissuade you from using products containing it.

How to Reduce Your Exposure to BPA Without BPA-Free Items

Avoiding the use of dishwashers and microwaves can reduce BPA exposure.
Avoiding the use of dishwashers and microwaves can reduce BPA exposure. (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / PhotoMIX-Company)

If you choose to reduce your BPA exposure, there are several ways you can go about doing this. For example, if you don’t want to throw out all of your plastic Tupperware, you can reduce the amount of BPA that it sheds by not microwaving it or putting it in the dishwasher. This is because these processes can damage the containers, leading them to shed more particles. However, if you can afford to replace all of your old plastic items with BPA-free ones, this might be the healthier option. Just be sure to put your old containers in the recycling bin instead of simply throwing them in the trash.

Alternatives to BPA

You can reduce your exposure to BPA by opting for alternative materials like glass and stainless steel.
You can reduce your exposure to BPA by opting for alternative materials like glass and stainless steel. (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / NatureFriend)

Since scientists began to uncover the detrimental health effects of BPA, they have developed several alternative plastics. This is why you may see advertisements for reusable bottles that use ‘BPA-free plastics’. However, most of these compounds are different variations of bisphenol — for example, bisphenol S (BPS), or bisphenol F (BPF). As you can see, the names of the compounds are very similar, as are their biochemical properties. So although these alternative plastics were developed to be a safer alternative to BPA, they may still have similar health effects.

If you’re seeking to be completely BPA-free, it’s better to remove plastic from your life altogether, or as much as possible. Most popular BPA products can be replaced by glass or metal. For example, instead of your reusable plastic water bottle, try a stainless steel water bottle; or instead of plastic food containers, go for glass ones  (both available on Amazon**). In addition to being healthier for you, these materials are also better for the environment because they do not shed microplastics that pollute the environment. Using these alternatives will help you avoid the potential side effects of BPA, and it will be a more sustainable choice as well.

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