BPA, short for Bisphenol A, is one of the world’s most commonly produced chemicals. It is frequently used for producing resins and plastics that can be found in food containers and water bottles. Although many have heard the term BPA before, the majority of people do not exactly know what it actually stands for. So what is this chemical that we find in our food packaging? Is it dangerous? And why do people like to talk about it so often?
BPA has been around ever since the 1960s and is currently the world’s most commonly used chemical to produce plastics. BPA-based plastics are colorless and extremely strong. This makes them a perfect component for the production of numerous consumer products ranging from toys to sports equipment and water bottles. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2008), approximately 75 percent of the annual BPA production is used to produce plastics whereas 25 percent is used to make resins. These resins, which are poorly soluble in water, are applied to the inside of food containers to prolong their lifespan.
The use of BPA brings along countless of advantages in numerous industries, yet the usage of this chemical is raising more and more concern among people around the globe. Especially the usage of BPA-based plastics in food containers and water bottles is highly criticized. This is the case because it is commonly believe that BPA plastics and resins can dissolve in water. Additionally, it is possible for BPA to leak from plastic into the content of a container when the wrapping gets damaged. Upon consuming the beverages that have been in contact with BPA, the chemical may enter one’s body. This, in turn, can possibly lead to health related problems.
Throughout the past decade, countless studies have been performed to check the potential negative effects that BPA may have on the human mind and body. There are numerous studies claiming that the intake of even a small amount of BPA may have a negative effect on one’s health. Nevertheless, these claims are not supported by many major research institutions and government agencies such as the FDA, EFSA, and EPA. According to them, our exposure to BPA is significantly small and not enough to cause any health related issues. The Food Standard Agency in the UK furthermore claims that, upon consumption, BPA gets rapidly absorbed, detoxified, and ejected from the human body. Thus claiming that there is little to worry about.
Although leading research and governmental agencies around the globe claim that the intake of small amounts of BPA is harmless, more and more people and organizations tend to disagree. In 2017, the European Chemicals Agency claimed that BPA has propensities of an endocrine disruptor. This means that it has the capabilities of imitating human hormones and can interfere with its functions which may cause problems in cell growth and recovery. Additionally, the WHO claims that even the intake of a small amount of BPA could potentially have negative effects on blood pressure, heart, and the brains of babies and children. Therefore, it was stated by the ECHA that BPA should in fact be considered a dangerous substance even when consumed in small amounts.
Besides it being used in plastic, BPA is also applied as a coating on the inside of tin food containers. Recent studies have shown that people who consume canned foods for 5 continuous days have an average increase of 1,221 percent in their body BPA levels. A separate study performed by the WHO furthermore shows that babies who drink milk from BPA-containing bottles have on average a staggering 8 times more BPA inside their body compared to babies who are breastfed.
It is clear that the real effects of BPA on the human body and mind are still an ongoing topic of debate among many leading health institutions and industry professionals. Major research institutions agree that further research on the topic of BPA and its potential health hazards is seen as one of their main priorities. In several countries, this uncertainty has made the government decide to ban the use of Bisphenol A in certain products such as baby bottles.
Although a number of national and international research institutions claim that the limited intake of Bisphenol A is harmless, an ever increasing group of consumers around the world chooses to avoid the chemical all together. If you are concerned about your own BPA intake, it is advisable to use food containers made from a different material. Hereby you can think about glass, stainless steel, or porcelain. If you really wish to use plastic, it is smart to stay away from plastics that fall under the plastic-identification code 3 or 7 as these are likely to contain BPA. Finally, it is a good idea to stay away from canned foods.