Regulatory agencies have underestimated the amount of toxic BPA (bisphenol A) found in humans—levels are actually 44 times higher than previously known. You may think this doesn’t affect you, but it has been found in 93% of people’s urine, including children as young as six years old.
Bisphenol A is a chemical found in plastics which is a known endocrine system disruptor. It has been linked to hormone imbalances in men and women, metabolism problems, fertility, and increases the risk of cancer. It’s the chemical behind all of the labels that now read “BPA-free.” While knowing about the risks of using plastic has been part of our lives for the last few years, the discovery that levels retained in human tissue are 44 times higher than the U.S. FDA previously assumed is really quite alarming.
The discrepancy is due to the way that levels of BPA were tested. The University of California at San Francisco has developed a more accurate test which relies on testing for the metabolites of BPA, rather than BPA itself. The BPA from the plastic utensil, water bottle, cup, container, or plastic wrap you touch can be found in your urine and has also been found in human breast milk. It’s everywhere, but until now, regulatory agencies have gotten by with saying it’s such a small amount that it doesn’t pose any risk.
As time goes on and we have more accurate levels of BPA to structure tests around, it may change. For now, avoid plastic (especially single-use plastic) as much as you can. Luckily, there are many alternatives to using plastic, but it’s still very likely that you won’t be able to eliminate it entirely. This environmental toxin can be found in linings of food containers and cups (even if the container boasts being made with recycled paper) and is hiding in most of our food packaging.
You can reduce your exposure by:
Switching to glass Tupperware, glass water bottles, glass baby bottles
Using re-useable silicon bags instead of Ziploc bags (I use this brand and they work well and keep food sealed)
Not microwaving food in plastic and reducing eating microwave meals
Lastly, try to avoid plastic altogether and don’t fall for the “BPA-free” label; in an attempt to reduce BPA, the chemical BPS is now used and marketed as a safer chemical alternative to BPA. Studies have shown that BPS can even be more harmful than BPA. It’s better to try to skip the plastic altogether or try using glass.
Gerona, Roy, et al. “BPA: Have Flawed Analytical Techniques Compromised Risk Assessments?” Correspondence, vol. 8, no. 1, 1 Jan. 2020, pp. 11–13., doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-8587(19)30381-X.
“Bisphenol A (BPA).” National Institute of Environmental Health Services, https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/sya-bpa/index.cfm.