BPA Danger: Better Safe Than Sorry

Posted by: , August 18, 2008 in 3:56 am

BPA Bottles dangerous baby bottlesJust how safe is that sippy cup?  Where is that baby bottle from and what is it made of?  If you are an average consumer, you have no idea and, up to now, had little reason to care.  But after the recent warnings being voiced about the dangers of BPA, it is time for all parents to take a closer look.

With all the care and caution that goes into the selection and preparation of the food and drink that nourishes our children, relatively little or no attention is given to the hidden dangers that may lurk in the vessels which carry them. The safety of the bottles, cups, nipples and dishes we use is just assumed. However, a rising tide of evidence is building that points towards potentially serious harmful effects of Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that is used in approximately ninety percent of all plastic baby bottles and is also present in water bottles and other plastic food containers and is even found in the lining of aluminum cans.

Bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA, is compound chemical component of polycarbonate plastics. According to Bisphenol-A.org, a website produced by the chemical manufacturing industry, BPA is used in the production of polycarbonate plastics that are lightweight, tough and clear (along with numerous other attributes) which make them appropriate for use in everything from drink containers to DVD’s to electrical and electronic equipment.

Although BPA has been in use for over 40 years and been extensively tested for quality and safety during that time, new studies and analysis of research data point to a connection between exposure to BPA and a variety of developmental issues and illnesses. When introduced into the human system, BPA mimics the presence and action of estrogen and, based on this, causes dangerous interference with the normal activities of that natural hormone.

In a 2004 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ninety five percent of those Americans analyzed had BPA present in their urine.

Research indicates that BPA may be linked to increased risk of breast and prostate cancer, uterine fibroids and decreased sperm count. Most importantly, the highest risk is associated with the exposure of babies and young children to BPA, as they are still developing and most susceptible to the hormonal interference in the brain activity which can lead to the early puberty, learning disorders, diabetes and hyperactivity.

The key factor that releases BPA into food and drink is heat. Adding hot food or liquid to a BPA-based baby bottle or sippy cup, or heating these items up in the containers themselves leads to a chemical reaction which releases very small doses into the food and is then ingested. Room temperature or cold drinks and food do not appear to cause this reaction and, at this time, do not seem to pose a risk.

While the amount of BPA ingested by people is very low and well within the safety guidelines issued by both the Environmental protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration, there is an ever growing concern among researchers and consumer advocates about this chemical. In 2008, the U.S. National Toxicology Program had reviewed available data and concluded that there was definite reason for concern over the effects of BPA on humans.

On April 18, 2008, Canada announced its intention to ban the use of BPA in baby bottles. Tony Clement, Minister of Health Canada summed it up best when he stated “Although our science tells us exposure levels to newborns and infants are below the levels that cause effects, it is better to be safe than sorry.”

Efforts to pass similar legislation in the U.S. Senate failed. and several U.S. states, such as California, have tried unsuccessfully to ban the chemical. A major class action lawsuit is already under way in California.

Avoiding baby bottles and food containers manufactured with Bisphenol A is the most obvious solution for avoiding this potential danger. Unfortunately, manufacturers are not required to label their products that contain BPA (although consumer activists are seeking to change this) so it is currently impossible to determine which baby bottles are made with the chemical.

It is much easier to identify those that are made without it, as those manufacturers will proudly advertise this fact on their packaging. A market for BPA free products is growing and strong sales will serve to increase this trend as companies like . Born Free (http://www.newbornfree.com/), Green To Grow (http://www.greentogrow.com/) and Think Baby Bottles (http://www.thinkbabybottles.com/) are a few companies leading the effort to manufacture BPA-free products.

Websites such as SafeMamma.com (http://safemama.com/2007/11/22/bpa-free-bottle-and-sippy-cup-cheat-sheet/) have created helpful directories of BPA-free products.

Of course, glass bottles do not contain BPA and remain a very safe and time-tested choice.

The potential dangers of BPA are continuing to come to light and, as evidenced by headlines over the last year, issues with the lax safety standard of childrens’ toys and other products (such as those made in China) pose hidden health risks under certain conditions. So, in addition to the careful thought that goes into planning your children’s diet, also take note of the other products that touch your lives, as they can play a major role in the safe and healthy development of your family.

Better safe than sorry.




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