Rethinking BPA

The Father writing good essays Life has reported on BPA in the past (‘Drastic Plastic’, April 2008), but lately there has been growing concern over the effects of BPA on humans. What is BPA? BPA is ‘bisphenol A,’ a hormone used by plastics manufacturers to make, among other things, the durable plastics and food containers we rely on every single day. Proponents of BPA (namely the industries that manufacture them to the tune of $6 Billion annually) claim that humans are exposed to BPA in such low doses that it has no practical effect.

However, a new article published this month by Fast Company entitled ‘THE REAL STORY ON BPA’ makes a compelling and chilling case otherwise. In fact, they go so far as to compare industry’s claims about BPA’s harmlessness to big tobacco’s claims about cigarettes as well as the long cover-up surrounding the hazardous pesticide DDT. Serious accusations to be sure, but they’ve made a convincing case.

Others are taking note as well. According to the Seattle Post Intelligencer, a recent Bill introduced in the House would “ban bisphenol A in food or drink containers for children ages 3 and younger amid concerns that even small amounts of the chemical could be harmful to babies or young children.”

FastCompany’s David Case describes how, “a handful of consultants used Big Tobacco’s tactics to sow doubt about science and hold off regulation of BPA, a chemical in hundreds of products that could be harming an entire generation.” He talks about the fact that out of, “more than 100 independently funded experiments on BPA, about 90% have found evidence of adverse health effects. On the other hand, every single industry-funded study ever conducted — 14 in all — has found no such effects.” And while it seems like momentum is beginning to build behind this issue, he reaches the conclusion that, “the government is unlikely to start controlling the use of BPA. The United States has a long tradition of keeping harmful substances — lead, DDT, tobacco, PCBs — on the market for decades after scientists find adverse effects.”

Scared? Given that BPA is found in almost everything we eat or drink or touch on a daily basis, we should probably be a little concerned at the very least. So, what can one do to lower their risks associated with BPA?

  • First, educate yourself. Start by reading David Case’s Fast Company article and than educate yourself from there about BPA. Perhaps, you’ll feel safe from the research cited. Perhaps you won’t.
  • Second, buy foods that come in glass containers. For instance, many dairies now offer milk in returnable glass containers. The price is competitive, it’s environmentally friendly (glass is much more easily recycled than plastic), and you can actually taste a difference (it tastes much better!).

Obviously, short of an outright government ban on BPA, the choice has to be yours. But the evidence is mounting that this is an issue we should be concerned about and should be doing more to get to the bottom of. We at The Father Life hope that this update has given you some good information for doing so.

Image by: Rogener Pavinski, SXC

4 thoughts on “Rethinking BPA

  1. I found it really interesting that I’d received an email from the plastics industry in less than 24 hours from posting this story… here it is. We’ll dig into this a bit more and try to confirm what’s put forth in the email… -B

    Hi Ben,

    In response to your article, “Rethinking BPA,” I wanted to clarify
    that only Polycarbonate “7” plastic contains BPA. It seems many
    articles omit the fact that most single-serve plastic bottles people
    use every day – such as those for water, soft drinks and juices – are
    made with polyethylene terephthalate (PET), designated by the
    recycling symbol “# 1,” which does not contain BPA. PET is safe and
    recyclable. Polycarbonate, on the other hand, is made with BPA and is
    designated by the symbol “#7”.

    I think your readers would benefit from additional information on how
    to differentiate safe plastics from those considered dangerous via
    this recyling code. I attached a short fact sheet containing a
    recycling code chart with this information, which I hope will be
    usefull.

    If you are interested, http://www.factsonpet.com contains additional
    information on this subject. I can also connect you with Dennis
    Sabourin, Executive Director of the National Association of PET
    Container Resources (NAPCOR) http://www.napcor.com and spokesperson for Facts on PET.

    Thanks for the consideration,
    Joshua Waller
    (212) 679-3300 x130
    factsonpet@gmail.com

  2. I had read something similar at vancouverdad.com. There are several of the recycling numbers that indicate non-BPA plastics.

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