Are BPA-Free Products Actually Safe?

A new study suggests consumers aren’t off the hook when buying BPA-free plastic.

Geneticist Patricia Hunt and her team were investigating the reproductive effects of BPA in mice when they came upon a surprising discovery - BPA-free plastic may not actually be safe. Researchers further examined BPA alternatives and found the replacements had a similar effect to BPA. The results show that common BPA replacements -BPS, BPF, BPAF, and diphenyl sulphone may still impact our health. It can be difficult to draw conclusions between mice and humans, but this research underlines a broader issue in commercial compound development; when chemicals are removed from the market, they’re often replaced by others that act similarly in our bodies.

BPA, or Bisphenol A, is known as an endocrine disrupting compound, which can disrupt normal hormone functions. Over the past few decades, several studies have reported negative reproductive, developmental, and metabolic effects in a range of wildlife, including rhesus monkeys, zebrafish, nematodes, and mice. In the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, they detected that 93 percent of participants had BPA in their urine. Even with these findings, the FDA states: “Studies pursued by FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research have shown no effects of BPA from low-dose exposure.” Director of the Division of Environmental Pediatrics at NYU Langone Health, Leonardo Trasande, tells National Geographic, “It speaks to the reality we need to regulate chemicals, not one by one, but in a class – in a way that allows us to tackle compounds that function with similar structure.” Consumers can avoid BPA alternatives by steering clear of plastic with the recycling numbers 3, 6, and 7. It is also suggested to not put plastic in dishwashers or the microwave, which causes more leaching of BPA and its alternatives. Try to opt for glass or steel containers rather than lined aluminum cans. Regulations on BPA alternatives will take years but you can take the right steps to protect yourself in the meantime. 

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