Bisphenol A has been in use for more than forty years. This plastic additive turns long chains of polycarbonate molecules into stable plastics. For a time, this product was used in products for children as it lessened the risk of glass breakage.
What Is BPA?
BPA, or bisphenol A, stabilizes and hardens plastics. It’s also included in epoxies and resins that are used to coat the lining of tin cans and may be applied inside water pipes to prevent corrosion.
What Replaced BPA?
BPA has been replaced with Bisphenol S. However, recent studies indicate that the hazards of these plastic additives are quite similar and both of these additives show long-term build-up and damage.
Exposure to BPA and BPS builds up and can cause chromosomal changes and possibly damage over generations.
How Do I Avoid These Plastic Additives?
Because the use of BPA has been so prevalent, it can currently be found in household dust and in our drinking water. While replacements for BPA are considered to be more stable, confirming that status may take years. To avoid additional exposure to plastic stabilizers in general, consider
- avoiding canned foods, or at least choosing BPA free cans
- do not heat food in plastics
- when possible, use non-reactive containers such as glass for serving hot foods
- hand wash plastics to reduce heat exposure
- check the recycle code and don’t use products labeled 3 or 7
Long Term Protection
Reducing your exposure to plastics can be a challenge. However, there are steps all of us can take to avoid the combination of BPA and heat or BPA and acid that leads to the highest levels of leaching.
- Purchase preserved foods in glass, not plastic. Take particular care with tomatoes and citrus fruits as highly acidic foods are nearly always stored in epoxy coated cans, and these coatings may well contain a plastic hardener.
- If you’re not able to buy fresh produce, choose frozen as opposed to canned.
- Never heat food in plastic.
- Invest in reusable stainless steel or glass water bottles to avoid leaching.
- Buy in bulk to reduce the amount of plastic you bring home, and once home, store these foods in glass or ceramic.
Concerns About Plastics In General
While you may find containers that promote their “BPA free status” plastic hardeners are still in use. We won’t know if the next generation of plastic hardeners, such as BPS, are safe. The plastics industry may be working hard to produce the next generation of stable products that won’t leach into our foods, but it can take years to determine the long-term effects.
Currently, BPA exposure is linked to negative health effects in children, such as changes in brain development, behavioral disorders and prostate gland development. In adults, BPA exposure may be linked to increased blood pressure.
Food preservation and storage was around long before plastics were developed. Keeping your diet as low in plastics as possible is likely a good decision, so returning to glass, ceramic and steel food storage containers is a positive step. Regardless of your container choices, avoid the combination of heat and plastic for long term food safety.