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How to Limit Exposure to BPA

Posted by Jessica Meeder on Apr 03, 2012 in Consumer Alerts

There are a number of ways consumers can limit their exposure to bisphenol-A, or BPA, an estrogen compound linked to a variety of serious health problems, including infertility, prostate cancer, and breast cancer.

The key lies in avoiding hard plastic widely used to make kitchen utensils, food storage containers, travel mugs and water bottles; and metal food and beverage cans which have epoxy linings that use BPA. In an article in health.msn.com, Frederick vom Saal, a biology professor and BPA researcher at the University of Missouri, urges consumers to take the following precautions:

Limit canned foods & beverages. The epoxy liners of metal food and beverage cans most likely contain BPA. vom Saal especially recommends avoiding canned foods that are acid (tomatoes, tomato-based soups, citrus products, and acidic beverages like cokes) and canned alcoholic beverages, since acids and alcohols can exacerbate the leaching of BPA.

The good news: Many foods and beverages can be purchased in glass containers (think beer, olive oil, and tomato paste) or frozen (like vegetables).

Don’t store foods in plastic. Glass food storage containers are inert and there are plenty of wonderful Pyrex containers on the market. Just be sure to wash the lids, which are made of plastic, by hand.

Filter your drinking and cooking water. Since detectable levels of BPA have been found in the water, vom Saal recommends removing it using a reverse osmosis and carbon filter, which generally can be found for less than $200. “In the long run, it’s cheaper than buying bottled water, which isn’t tested for BPA,” he says.

Filter your shower and tub water. According to vom Saal, the relatively small BPA molecules can easily be absorbed through the skin. BPA can be removed from the water by adding ceramic filters to showerheads and tubs. Just be sure to change them regularly.

Don’t transport beverages in plastic mugs. Instead, opt for an unlined stainless steel travel mug. This is especially important when transporting hot beverages, like coffee or tea.

Limit use of hard plastic water bottles. Those colorful, light-weight plastic bottles may be great for hiking, but unfortunately, they are made of polycarbonate plastic. For everyday use when a little extra weight isn’t an issue, choose a stainless steel water bottle, and make sure it’s unlined—some metal water bottles contain a plastic liner that may contain BPA.

Minimize hard plastics in the kitchen. Hard plastic stirring spoons, pancake flippers, blenders, measuring cups and colanders regularly come into contact with both food and heat. Fortunately, all of these can easily be replaced with wooden, metal, or glass alternatives.

Skip the water cooler. Those hard plastic five-gallon jugs that many companies use to provide their employees and customers with “pure” water are usually made of BPA-containing polycarbonate. Opt for tap water instead.

Especially For Kids

Choose BPA-Free baby bottles. There are several alternatives to polycarbonate baby bottles. First, there’s the old-fashioned, inert glass baby bottle. If you prefer a plastic alternative, check out Born-Free’s new line of BPA-free plastic baby bottles.

As with any plastics, you should still avoid harsh detergents, dishwashers, and microwaves.

Choose BPA-Free sippy cups. Stainless steel sippy cups, like those by Klean Kanteen, are a great alternative to polycarbonate plastic sippy cups. Klean Kanteen also offers a BPA-free sippy cup top adapter.

If you prefer a smaller, lighter-weight, totally plastic sippy cup, check out Born Free’s line of colorful, BPA-free sippy cups.

Again, it’s still wise to avoid exposing plastics to microwaves, harsh detergents, and dishwashers.

Limit plastic toys. Unfortunately, polycarbonate plastics are used to make toys, which young kids are so known for chewing on. Since chewing can break down the plastic and release BPA into a toddler’s mouth, minimizing plastic toys during the chewing stage is a good idea.

Especially for Pregnant Women

Here’s one more reason to keep taking that folic acid. Not only does it help prevent birth defects, it may also help protect a developing fetus from the effects of the BPA you’ll inevitably consume even if you take steps to reduce exposure.

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