I rarely pay attention to childhood safety guidelines and recall notices. In our house, The Wife ensures we are compliant with the latest OSHA standards.
So, I was surprised to find all of our baby bottles in the trash last month. According to the Ludwig Safety Czar, our plastic bottles contained bisphenol A or BPA. The bottles may also have contained a toxin called phthalates.
The two chemicals are found in a variety of plastics, but perhaps most concerning is their presence in hard, clear baby bottles.
“But, everybody uses these bottles,” I argued.
In fact, the five leading brands of baby bottles all contain BPA. The U.S. Center for Disease Control found 95 percent of Americans have a detectable level of BPA in their body. Phthalates have been found in nearly 100 percent of the population, according to the CDC.
So if everybody is using these “dangerous” bottles and almost all adults are doing just fine with these chemicals in their bodies, what’s the big deal?
The Wife went on to explain that adolescent immune systems aren’t as good at filtering out these chemicals. Plus, the toxins leach out faster when
plastics are heated. Every time a bottle is warmed or put into the dishwasher, more of the dangerous chemicals are released.
“Yeah, but come on,” I said, looking down at $40 worth of baby bottles ripe for garbage picking.
“We’ll maybe I don’t want my boys to have tiny testes!” The Wife replied in a raised voice.
Clearly tired of explaining herself, she said decreased testosterone production in boys is just one adverse effect of phthalates. Depending on the
manufacturing date, our bottles may have contained the hormone disruptor.
Low testosterone is commonly blamed for low sperm count, increased breast size, brittle bones and tiny testicles.
“OK” I said, now gathering the trash to walk it to the curb.
BPA is actually the more common chemical found in baby bottles. It’s been linked to increased rates of breast and prostate cancer and reproductive system abnormalities. When babies are exposed to BPA in the womb, it can lead to hyperactivity, obesity and diabetes, according to a Consumer Reports article last month.
All liquid formulas also contain BPA. The cans are lined with the thin layer of the plastic material. When fed through a contaminated bottle, babies are at risk of getting a double dose of the toxin.
Despite the health risks, dangerous plastics haven’t received the same attention as recalled toys containing lead paint. The imported toy recall caused quite the stir last year and is likely to lead to tougher product testing.
As for the plastics, few folks are aware of the problem. I asked my pediatrician who said only a handful of parents have inquired about the potentially dangerous bottles. Several nearby daycare providers were also unaware of any threat posed by plastic bottles.
“We haven’t seen the glass (bottles) yet,” one daycare worker said.
That may change this summer when the U.S. National Toxicology Program is expected to release a new report. A congressional inquiry is also looking into the risks of BPA.
All these recalls and child safety guidelines have me feeling a little testy… get it?
Editor’s note: Looking for safe baby bottles? Check out the products at GetNGreen.com.
Howard Ludwig is a former business writer who traded his reporter’s notebook for a diaper bag, becoming a stay-at-home dad.