You've probably seen "BPA Free" on many of the plastic bottles at your local grocery store. You might be wondering what is BPA and does it matter if the products you buy are BPA free or not. The research is divided on how harmful BPA is, but researchers do agree that BPA does leach into food and water stored in containers made with BPA.
Bisphenol A better known as BPA is a chemical added to plastics. It is used to make the plastics hard and clear. BPA is used in everything from compact discs to baby bottles. 90% of people have a detectable amount of BPA in their urine. BPA gets into the body through food or water stored in containers made with the chemical.
Animals studies have shown an increased risk for cancer when exposed to BPA. Researchers are looking at a possible link between BPA and heart problems. BPA could have an effect on obesity, diabetes, and ADHD. Though more research is still needed.
BPA seems to affects the endocrine system, the body's hormone center. BPA disrupts the body's natural levels. Children are at an increased risk since their bodies are still developing and are less able to eliminate substances from their bodies. Babies whose mothers were exposed to BPA during their pregnancy had BPA present in their system at birth. Pregnant women should avoid products with BPA at all costs. It is still unclear what all the effects of BPA are.
Microwaving increases the amount of BPA that leaches out of the container and into the food or water. Heating up plastic containers should be avoided. Don't leave water bottles in your car on a hot day. The heat can increase BPA leaching. Water storage containers should be kept in a cool dry place.
Several countries are phasing out BPA. Canada has even banned all products made with BPA. Companies are labeling their products "BPA Free" to help the public identify what is safe and what is not. When in doubt check for the recycle symbol. Most plastic goods will have a number 1-7 in the recycle triangle somewhere, typically on the bottom of the container. This indicates how easy the plastic is to recycle, in other words, what chemicals they might contain. A number 7 usually means BPA is present. Many large water storage containers are number 7 plastic, look for containers that are labeled "BPA Free" to ensure your water supply is safe.
Photo Credit: https://ksenvironmental.com.au/plastic-recycling-codes/