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EWG's Tips to avoid BPA exposure
EWG is working hard to pass laws that limit or ban the dangerous chemical bisphenol-A (BPA).
But until they pass, we think you should have the latest info on sources of exposure and our tips to avoid them on your own. Because before the personal becomes political it's, well, still personal.
Who's affected by BPA??
- 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.
- 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. Pregnant women and older children should avoid BPA. Eat a varied diet, avoid canned foods, and don't use polycarbonate plastics for warm food or drinks.
How are we exposed?? EWG Senior Scientist Olga Naidenko wrote a recent post here on Enviroblog summarizing all the ways we can be exposed to BPA.
In short, 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.
EWG's Tips for avoiding BPA Although completely eliminating exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) may not be possible, there are steps you can take to reduce your family's exposure to this chemical by avoiding common sources and limiting exposure for the highest risk groups.
- BPA in formula and baby bottles: Check our BabySafe guide to bottles and formula and a previous Enviroblog post specifically about choosing and using infant formula safely.
- 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. 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.
And keep your eyes on Enviroblog and your inbox for upcoming e-advocacy on BPA legislation. We plan to beat this chemical at home and in the halls of Congress.