In 2011, Bisphenol A was added to Environment Canada’s List of Toxic Substances for its suspected adverse health effects. This popular plastic compound is used in many food containers such as cans, water bottles and storage containers.
So what can you do to reduce or limit your exposure to BPA?
High risk to Babies:
The developing fetus and baby are the most vulnerable to BPA’s toxic effects. Unfortunately they also have the most intense BPA exposure of any age group. Many parents who have replaced their polycarbonate baby bottles
are unaware that BPA contaminates liquid baby formula sold in metal cans. Since formula can make up 100% of a baby's diet over her first 6 months of life, parents should choose BPA-free types
Risk to Adults:
Adults ingest much less BPA than babies. But a recent study linking BPA exposures in adults to heart disease and diabetes raises concerns about the safety of current exposures. Adult exposure comes primarily from canned foods and polycarbonate food containers
, but BPA-containing medical devices could also be a source.
Some suggestions: Eat a varied diet, avoid canned foods, and don't use polycarbonate plastics for warm food or drinks.
BPA in canned foods
Almost all canned foods
sold in the United States have a BPA-based epoxy liner that leaches BPA into the food. EWG tested 97 canned foods and found detectable levels of BPA in more than half of the foods. [Read about EWG's food and formula tests]. The highest concentrations were in canned meats, pasta and soups.
Only 1 manufacturer claims to use no BPA. Eden Foods uses an alternative technology for canned beans but not for its tomato-based products. Pregnant women and children should limit their consumption of canned foods to avoid BPA. Rinsing canned fruit or vegetables may reduce the amount of BPA you ingest.
BPA in water and food containers
Less BPA leaches from plastic water bottles and food containers than from cans into canned foods and baby formula. Nevertheless it is good to take simple precautions to reduce your exposure.
Polycarbonate plastics are rigid, transparent and used for food storage containers and water bottles, among other things. Trace amounts of BPA can migrate from these containers, particularly if used for hot food or liquids. Soft or cloudy-colored plastic does not contain BPA.
When possible, avoid polycarbonate, especially for children's food and drinks. This plastic might be marked with the recycling code #7 or the letters “PC”. Plastics with the recycling labels #1, #2 and #4 on the bottom are better choices because they do not contain BPA. Avoid putting any plastic containers in microwaves. Wash plastics on the top shelf of your dishwasher or by hand.
Some metal water bottles lined with an epoxy-based enamel coating could leach BPA. Look for stainless steel bottles that do not have a liner. Avoid using old and scratched plastic bottles.
Other sources of BPA:
BPA has countless uses, several of which have been highlighted as an exposure risk. BPA is a component of non-metal dental fillings, it is in thermal paper for many receipts, and it is increasingly used in medical devices. There is little research about the magnitude of exposures from these products.