Have you been buying BPA-free plastics? They might not be safer.
by Jeanne Sager
Sometimes it feels like moms just can't win for losing. Here we have all made the big leap to BPA-free plastics to keep our kiddos safe, and now there's a huge expose out that says maybe BPA wasn't the worst thing hiding in our baby bottles and sippy cups!
Unless you've been living under a rock for the past decade, by now you probably know that the commercial chemical BPA, or bisphenol-A, is a toxic nasty that could interrupt the endocrine system and cause all sorts of problems for our children. So what's a mom to do? Just buy BPA-free plastic bottles and sippy cups, right?
Wellllll, it turns out that BPA-free might not be so safe either! An expose from Mother Jones magazine is making waves this week for uncovering a whole lot of scary stuff about toxins that are hiding in the BPA-free plastics moms have been buying by the boatload ... thinking we're doing right by our kids!
The expose cites at least one scientific study that found "some BPA-free products actually released synthetic estrogens that were more potent than BPA," and even shares the results of lab testing on BPA-free sippy cups. A quarter of the tested cups, the kinds purchased at major retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart, tested positive for what they call "estrogenic activity."
Sounds scary, doesn't it?
But what exactly does all this mean for moms in layman's terms? SHOULD we be getting worked up about this?
In a nutshell, yes. According to the Mother Jones report, and a plastics study from the University of Texas-Austin recently published in the NIH journal Environmental Health Perspectives, "almost all" plastics that were tested leached synthetic estrogens, including the BPA-free products out on the market.
Is this any worse than BPA itself?
Not worse, necessarily, but not better either! The primary reason moms -- and many companies -- have moved away from BPA is the feared risks to the endocrine system. The National Toxicology Program has expressed “some concern" for effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and children exposed to BPA.
So if BPA-free products are truly leaching chemicals that are just as risky, then it stands to reason our kids are STILL at risk, despite moms' best efforts.
Where is this stuff hiding?
The short answer is in "most" BPA-free plastic, at least according to the study out of the University of Texas-Austin. More specifically, according to the researchers' tests:
- 70 percent of HDPE plastic (a hard plastic use to make baby bottles, milk jugs, ice cube trays, etc. -- the acronym for the type of plastic can typically be found on the bottom of the container) tested positive for synthetic estrogens.
- 75 percent of PET or PETE plastic (a more pliable plastic used to make water and soda bottles) tested positive for synthetic estrogens.
- 68 percent of PP plastic (a heat-resistant plastic used to make baby bottles, sippy cups, and reusable food storage containers) tested positive for synthetic estrogens.
- 55 percent of PS plastic (a hard plastic used for making dishes, drinking glasses and food packaging) tested positive for synthetic estrogens.
- 91 percent of PLA plastics (a plastic used to make disposable forks and spoons, yogurt cups, and takeout containers) tested positive for synthetic estrogens.
- Other plastics are out there but have not yet been tested.
How can we protect our kids?
You may not be able to move away from all plastics because they are ubiquitous on the market, but where possible, scientists suggest moving to wood, glass, and/or stainless steel bottles, storage containers, drinking cups, utensils, plates, etc. If you must use plastic, don't heat food or drink in the plastic containers as heat can increase the leaching of the chemicals into the food. Moms can also steer clear of pre-packaged foods by buying fresher ingredients.
Of course, this isn't a perfect answer. We moms are really at the mercy of the corporations and the laws that protect them. We didn't know BPA was risky until after we'd been using products laden with it for years. Now it seems we're in the same boat with BPA-free products, products we chose because we THOUGHT we were being good parents and protecting our kids.
Have you been buying BPA-free plastics? How does this news affect your family?