How BPA (And Its Replacement Chemicals) Affect Your Health

In 2012, The Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of all plastic baby bottles made with bisphenol A, aka BPA. BPA is a chemical that has been used in hardening plastics for over 40 years until recent controversy. The ban came after manufacturers’ responded to consumer concerns of BPA's safety after several studies found the chemical mimics estrogen and could harm brain and reproductive development in fetuses, infants and children.

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Although the BPA has banned the sale of plastic baby bottles made with BPA, BPA still exists in bounds of other plastic products like medical devices, CDs, dental sealants, water bottles and the lining of canned goods.

The truth is, more than 90 percent of us have BPA in our bodies right now, either because we ate or drank something that has been in a container made with BPA or we picked it up through air, dust or water. How exactly does BPA affect our health? Well, we don't really know yet. Not enough definitive studies have been conducted to tell. The FDA says we are safe at the current low levels of exposure to BPA, but it has expressed some concern about the potential effects on the brain, behavior and prostate glands in fetuses, infants and young children.

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But the consumer concerns were enough to enlist an FDA ban on BPA baby bottles, so other area of concern should not be overlooked. Here are a few of those areas of concern:

  • Hormone levels: Experts worry that BPA could theoretically act as a hormone, disrupting normal hormone levels and development in fetuses, infants and children.
  • Baby and behavior problems: The FDA also expressed concerns that BPA could have effects on the brain or behavior of infants and children.
  • Cancer: Animal studies have shown a link between BPA exposure and cancer risk.
  • Heart problems: Two studies have shown that adults with high levels of BPA also have high levels of heart problems.

Because of the recent backlash on BPA, a replacement chemical called bisphenol S, aka BPS, was said to be favored because it was thought to be less prone to leaching into contents like BPA does. However, 81 percent of Americans have BPS in their urine, can affect cells in ways similar to BPA. Even picomolar concentrations (less than one part per trillion) of BPS can disrupt cell's functioning, potentially causing metabolic disorders like diabetes, obesity, asthma, birth defects, and even cancer.

Many say the real problem lies in the lack of industry regulation, because no federal agency tests toxicity of new materials before they are allowed on the market.