What you should know about BPA depends upon whom you ask. Clearly, those industries that use it to make their products do not want concerns to lead to widespread panic. However, some governments, consumer groups, health providers, and environmentalists are not happy with developing information regarding BPA.
In laymen’s terms, BPA or bisphenol A, is a synthetic chemical compound used to make some plastics and resins that are used in manufacturing numerous products we use in our daily lives. Many plastic containers are suspect, from water bottles and baby bottles to food storage containers, toys, and some medical implements, but it is not only these items that are of concern. Things like liners in cans of food or baby formula are also potentially problematic.
BPA is said by some to also be an environmental contaminant, having been reported in water and sediment at various levels. Many believe that even low-level exposure can be dangerous, as has been shown in some studies with animals. Some studies link BPA exposure to different types of cancers as well as other diseases and disorders. The threats of breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, obesity, and miscarriage may be exacerbated by BPA exposure, and it may increase hyperactivity according to some studies.
BPA may act as a hormone disruptor, or an element that can interfere with proper hormonal function leading to various health problems. Still, most governments are not prepared to enact a full ban until further testing has been completed, since there are competing studies and study of human exposure has not been done extensively. Due to limited human study, the question of whether or not bisphenol A is dangerous to humans continues to fuel controversy.
Government agencies may not be much help. Various reports quote different agencies to bolster arguments on both sides of the debate. Instead of relying on government agencies or industry studies, many people have decided to err on the side of caution and attempt to avoid products containing BPA. It may not be possible to avoid bisphenol A completely, but to help lessen exposure many people have begun to limit the use of products that contain it. Consumers can check labels to seek BPA free products, and it is also noted that some products bearing the #7 recycling symbol contain BPA.
Consumers can take other steps to help limit exposure as well, such as choosing glass instead of plastic where possible, not using plastic containers in the microwave or with hot foods or beverages, not putting plastic in the dishwasher, and avoiding strong cleaners such as bleach when cleaning plastics.