Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Avoid BPA

BPA: 5 Tips to Avoid the Dangers in Plastics
Your plastic water bottle may not be safe
By Susan Seliger
You’ve probably seen the news reports about the dangers of chemicals such as BPA (bisphenol-A, an endocrine-disrupting chemical) and others in plastic. Now it’s time for you to do something about it.
I know you’re trying to do the green thing by re-using your plastic water and juice bottles instead of being like 80% of the rest of the world who toss them in the garbage and don’t even recycle.
But cut it out. BPA has been linked to various cancers (breast and prostate cancer), early onset puberty, Type II diabetes and neurobehavioral changes in offspring exposed in the womb. And BPA is not the only danger lurking in your plastic containers.
Here are some simple steps you can take to stay healthy and safe. These tips are advisable for everybody – but especially for those most vulnerable to the effects of these chemicals -- infants and young children, as well as pregnant women or anyone even thinking about getting pregnant.

1. Do not re-use plastic water – or soda or juice -- bottles.
The danger here is not BPA -- these containers do not contain BPA as they are made from PET (polyethylene terephthalate), a petroleum-based material. (Turn them upside-down and look for the number #1 inside the tiny triangle.)
The primary danger is bacteria. With those small mouths, they are almost impossible to wash properly.
Danger Number 2: Once you’ve put those bottles in the dishwasher and they’ve gotten scratched and dented, this degraded bottle allows a trace metal, antimony, to leach into whatever you are drinking, according to one of the leading researchers on plastics, University of Missouri’s Frederick S. vom Saal, in a recent New York Times article.

2. Avoid hard plastic Nalgene containers, made from polycarbonates -- #7 on the bottom.
Yes, those cool, colorful, rigid transparent plastic bottles that are labeled Number 7 – or PC on the bottom -- contain BPA. This plastic is also used for hard plastic baby bottles, toddlers’ sippy cups, 5 gallon water cooler bottles, plastic silverware, and Lexan products, according to a report by The Environmental Working Group.
“Some polycarbonate water bottles are marketed as 'non-leaching' for minimizing plastic taste or odor, however there is still a possibility that trace amounts of BPA will migrate from these containers, particularly if used to heat liquids,” according to the EWG.
When possible it is best to avoid #7 plastics, especially for children's food. Plastics with the recycling labels #1, #2 , #4 and #5 on the bottom are safer choices and do not contain BPA.
(NOTE FROM LILLIAN: I just went to Sports Authority and I found that Nalgene is now making water bottles that are BPA free. Just look for the big "BPA free" sticker on it. Get them for your kids lunch boxes!!!!!)

3. Use stainless steel containers – there’s a sippy cup adapter for toddlers.
And make sure you pick ones that do not have a plastic liner. That plastic liner can contain – you guessed it – BPA.
Here’s a web site – KleanKanteen -- with a selection of stainless steel bottles —one even has a sippy adapter for kids – instead of those plastic sippy cups.
(NOTE FROM LILLIAN: I've checked out that brand. They do have great little sippy cups. They are exensive though. I found BPA free bottles and nipples at my local Natural Grocery store. So I know they could be easily found online too. I didn't see BPA free pacifiers but I'll bet they can be found online.)

4. Do not microwave or heat foods in plastic containers.
That means any plastic – even if it is a safer variety. When you heat liquids or foods in a plastic container, it causes even more BPA (and possibly other chemicals) to leach out.
Don’t use plastic wrap in the microwave either. Though the American Chemistry Council reports that phthalates stopped being used in any US plastic wraps in 2006, companies aren't required to list what's in their plastic wrap. So why take chances?
Use glass containers in the microwave. And cover with a paper towel or a glass cover.

5. If you must use plastic containers, hand wash them.
For times when you can’t use glass – like when you’re out running or biking – and you must use plastic, at least make sure to wash your bottle by hand. Use a mild dishwashing soap – and do not put it in the dishwasher as this will degrade the plastic and allow more BPA (or trace metals iin the case of single-use plastic water bottles) to leach out.