Volume 2: Spring 2010
Bisphenol A, or BPA, is known to cause hormone abnormalities and liver malfunction in adults and children, yet the Federal Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency have not regulated its use at all.
BPA is commonly used in all types of plastics including baby bottles, plastic packaging and household items. Just a few common products that contain BPA are plastic food containers, medical tools and dental devices. BPA is an epoxy resin that until recently was used to coat the inside of almost all food and beverage cans.
The reason that BPA has been used in commercial manufacturing for over 70 years is because it makes plastics harder, stronger and more resistant to stains. It also makes clear plastic that is nearly shatter proof. BPA is also used in plastics that are used for building purposes, eyeglass lenses, CDs and DVDs.
These plastics get thrown away and end up in the landfill and the residue enters the water supply. Most canned goods are lined with BPA, and have been since the 1930s. According to Consumer Reports, even organic canned foods had levels of BPA. The highest levels were in canned soup, canned green beans and other high sodium foods. The EPA estimates that over one million pounds of BPA are released into the environment per year in America alone.
The FDA has the power to regulate this sort of thing, but in 2008 FDA officials denied the allegations that BPA was harmful. Just recently, the FDA changed its attitude and publicly acknowledged the harmful effects on children and fetuses.
We are all consumers and make our voices heard through the products that we buy. The use of BPA in so many plastic products is seriously affecting the environment around us. One way to find information regarding this toxic chemical -– and to find out whether you are buying items containing BPA -- is through research on the Internet. Companies like Sigg, which makes stainless steel water bottles, were always thought to carry BPA free products until recently. Sigg just made it public knowledge that their stainless steel water bottles are lined with BPA.
But one company is different. Pam Marcus is the founder of Life Factory, a company California-based company that makes BPA-free water bottles. Marcus started this company while she was working as a Pediatric Feeding Specialist, which fueled her research about the harmful effects of BPA. American consumers should research the items that they buy and realize that their purchasing choices can change the marketplace.
The EPA finally acknowledged that there is evidence that BPA is harmful to children and adults on March 29. This announcement was the first time a government agency acknowledged the harmful effects of BPA. Until there is more research conducted, consumers must fuel the progress by not choosing to buy plastic containers that contain BPA. There are many companies like Life Factory and Rubbermaid, which voluntarily make glass and plastic household products that are BPA free. Due to consumer requests, Rubbermaid now offers a few lines of plastic food containers that are completely BPA free. These and other BPA free products are available online. Do your part and think about what you buy before you buy it. The smarter we get with consumer choices, the healthier we will become. We as consumers must research our buying choices and buy things that are safe for our families and our bodies.
Melissa Hill is a senior journalism and mass communications major.