What is “BPA” used in plastics, and why should I worry about it? Are there certain household items or food containers to avoid because of BPA?
—Tina Sillers, via e-mail
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Bisphenol A (also known as BPA) is a chemical that has been in use for upwards of four decades in the manufacture of many hard plastic food containers, including baby bottles and reusable cups and the lining of metal food and beverage cans (including canned liquid infant formula). The agency further reports that “trace amounts of BPA can be found in some foods packaged in these containers.”
The non-profit Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reports that “growing amount of scientific research has linked BPA exposure to altered development of the brain and behavioral changes, a predisposition to prostate and breast cancer, reproductive harm, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease.” The group adds that more than 93 percent of Americans have some BPA in their bodies, primarily from exposure through food contamination and other preventable contact.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration was initially dismissive of worries about BPA, but increased public pressure and new research on the potential effects of BPA on the brain and the prostate gland in fetuses, infants and young children have forced the agency to revisit its last survey on the topic from 2008. “While we learn more, the Food and Drug Administration is supporting current efforts by industry to stop the manufacture of infant bottles and feeding cups made with BPA
,” reports HHS.