Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical compound that is harmful to humans. We can find it for example in our food, water and on till receipts. Harmful BPA can cause many diseases.
What is BPA?
Bisphenol A, abbreviated as BPA, is a very common chemical compound. We can find it, for instance, in plastic manufacturing industry. For all those interested: manufacturing of mainly polycarbonates and epoxy resins. Products such as e.g. paint, varnish or simply other plastics feature quite a lot of the latter. Moreover, BPA is also used in manufacturing of PVC. Doesn’t sound too healthy, right? And to think we can find it in our food!
Is Bisphenol A bad for us?
Yes, it is. Studies suggest that BPA is actually the cause of many diseases. First, it is endocrine disruptor. What does it mean for us? BPA upsets our hormone balance. It may e.g. increase or decrease hormones level or its elimination. The effects may include for exapmle problems with thyroid gland, prostate gland or premature puberty. What’s more BPA may also cause obesity, diabetes, infertility and disorders of the nervous system. Apart from that it can also contribute to the development of e.g. breast, prostate, intestinal and liver cancer.
Where can we find harmful BPA?
- as I’ve written before, BPA is used to manufacture plastic
- medical equipment and dental materials
- kitchenware – bowls, blender containers and cups. Apart from that – reusable water bottles. Hard plastic, bearing the label of recycling code 7, is a frequent component of such dishes.
- food packaging – the inside of most metal tin cans used as packaging for food, beverages, and supplements comes with plastic linings containing harmful BPA. These linings are to prevent the corrosion of tins. Unfortunately, research has shown that BPA make its way to our food. Sounds tasty? Not really, does it?
- thermal paper – in other words: receipts, some tickets (also air tickets) or parking cards. Thanks to a substance containing Bisphenol A the text printed on thermal paper is visible
- CDs and DVDs
- in PVC manufacturing – we still have floors made of this very compound in our homes. In addition to that, almost every wire features a PVC layer cover. Not to mention the plastic shoes made of PVC.
Bisphenol A was once a quite popular component of plastic baby bottles. Luckily a law introduced in 2011 makes it illegal to use this substance in this area of manufacturing.
How does harmful Bisphenol A affect us in our everyday life?
- Studies show that we ‘consume’ the biggest amount of BPA with our food. By consuming food and beverages from package containing BPA, to be precise. Scientists have proven that it makes its way from packaging to the food. The water we drink may contains it as well.
- The second most significant source of BPA are… till receipts! BPA from thermal paper gets into contact with our unwashed hands, and then ‘travels’ to our stomachs with our food. What’s even more important is that it makes its way to our blood through our skin. According to researchers, the concentration of BPA in urine tends to remain at a higher level for over a week after even 5 minutes of holding a piece of thermal paper in our hands.
- Through the respiratory tract: with air and dust. Harmful BPA that accumulates in domestic dust originates e.g. from PVC floors.
How do I know that a product contains Bisphenol A?
Such plastic product bears a label with the recycling code no. 7 meaning “Other”. It is a label we should be able to find on the bottom of the product. Manufacturing of products that do contain harmful BPA usually involves rather hard, often transparent plastic.
Parents are probably best familiar with the matter. Many companies manufacturing goods for children label their products as BPA-free.
How to limit the amount of BPA in my environment?
Do you know the story: you drive into a parking lot in a shopping center and collect your ticket. Where does it go in 90% of cases? Exactly, into the driver’s mouth! Did you know that such tickets are very often printed on thermal paper? Let me add that the absorption of substances from the mouth is quite fast.
The world of science is still looking for substitutes to Bisphenol A. However, the thermal paper so far still contain BPA or its alternatives with the same activity. That’s why it’s best to keep your receipts and tickets in one, preferably tightly closed, place. You can also take a picture of a receipt. After all, paper receipts fade with time.
If you buy toys for your kids, make sure to check the recycling code (RIC). I’ve covered the issue already here. Kids’ skin is much thinner and elimination mechanism of foreign substances is less effective. Therefore, their skin absorbs much more toxic substances than the skin of an adult. In addition to that children put their hands and toys into their mouth quite often. So be careful when choosing the toys for your kids and buy those from trusted sources.
According to studies, the good old habit of washing hands works to our great advantage. Washing hands after coming into contact with items containing BPA significantly reduces its concentration in our blood. Which is not the case with antibacterial hand sanitizers. Hand sanitizers contain compounds that make absorption of Bisphenol A even easier.
It’s great that more and more people care to eat healthy. Are you such a person too? Take a closer look at what you prepare and store your food in. Make sure your plastic food containers (if you still use any) do not contain BPA. Even the healthiest meal in the world may do you more harm than good in such packaging. I suggest switching to clear glass containers instead.
Buy food and beverages in glass containers, not in tins. The best thing is to use fresh products which will make you feel better and stay in better shape.
This handful of simple (I suppose) tips should help you live a healthier life. I think it’s worth it. How about you?
Keep It Simple