It would be so wonderful if we could get just one straight answer on the topic of polycarbonate plastics and their possible leaching of Bisphenol A. Unfortunately, as you, as a consumer continue to use it, studies and research continues to test it each time swinging the pendulum from “safe to use” to “not safe to use”, leaving us all in a confused and dismayed state.

So what are you to do? Do you throw away all the bottles and packages made of polycarbonate or do you keep using them in hopes of a favourable final result on their safety? These questions do not carry one, nice and easy answer.

And if you do throw away all your containers and bottles or already did, are you safe completely from being exposed to Bisphenol A, the chemical compound that is a female hormone (estrogen) mimicker? This answer is easy – No! Bisphenol A is used as lining in many food cans and containers that we consider disposable and would never even think of them containing it. And worst of all it is used to line many baby formula containers.

Well, the good news is that as I said above research is continuing. The latest article to come out on this from the Scientific American is “Plastic (Not) Fantastic: Food Containers Leach a Potentially Harmful Chemical” written by David Biello.

Article Summary

So here are a few key facts:

  • The CDC (center for disease control) has found traces of BPA in nearly all urine samples it collected from subjects in 2004
  • BPA is supposed to get quickly broken down to glucuronide for easy excretion out of the body
  • CDC found levels of glucuronide in the urine samples meaning we have constant exposure to BPA
  • BPA is used to line food containers to prevent corrosion of cans, food contamination and making containers shatterproof
  • BPA leaches out 55 times faster when the containers are exposed to heat
  • A recent report in the journal Reproductive Toxicology found that humans must be exposed to levels of BPA at least 10 times what the EPA has deemed safe because of the amount of the chemical detected in tissue and blood samples
  • Children have the highest levels of BPA in their system compared to adolescents and adults
  • Adults have an ability to tolerate the chemical, whereas the same is not seem in children
  • Babies face the highest exposure to BPA, because both baby bottles and infant formula cans leach BPA
  • Currently the FDA approves its use as “safe” as they claim we are not exposed to levels high enough to harm us
  • Studies continue to support it as safe, while others find it unsafe and toxic to humans
  • We can’t forget that BPA is not the only estrogen mimicking agent we are exposed to therefore we have to consider the compounding effects too
  • The chemical industry does have other alternatives it can use to substitute the polycarbonates but they are not using them at this time mostly for cost reasons (polycarbonates are cheap)
  • Japanese manufacturers have switched to using different compounds as all their tests showed BPA does leach from containers and is harmful
  • If for whatever reason these containers are a must for you they should never be microwaved, heated, washed in dishwashers or with hot water or have hot liquids put into them

Bottom line it seems this debate will still continue for some time, so in the meantime use your caution and discretion when using these products!

Personal Note

Would I use them – no. For me just the fact that some studies have found it to have negative health effects is enough to avod it. We all have other options and I choose to exercise them. Why take unnecessary risks? And have you thought about what happens when in a few years they iron all this out and prove once and for all that it is unsafe? And even if they don’t the compounding effects between the masses of these chemicals that we use each day are enough to have me back away from BPA. So no plastic #7 bottles for me. And as for the food containers, well I have stopped buying canned food. Yes, maybe you see this as a drastic or extreme step, but consider the fact that canned food is processed, that alone makes enough sense for me not to purchase it. And there are lots of alternatives from fresh food to food that comes packaged in cartons (not lined ones) and glass!

On a final note consider the following quote from Scott Belcher, an endocrine biologist at th University of Cincinnati:

“These are fantastic products and they work well … [but] based on my knowledge of the scientific data, there is reason for caution,” Belcher says. “I have made a decision for myself not to use them.”

Read the full article now: “Plastic (Not) Fantastic: Food Containers Leach a Potentially Harmful Chemical