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What Is the Chemistry Industry Hiding About the Products That We Use Every day?

written by: Rose Kivi•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 6/2/2011

Food companies use a chemical called Bisphenol A (BPA) to manufacture packaging for food and drink items. The BPA used in the packaging, leeches into the food and drinks that people consume every day. Scientists discovered the dangers of BPA in 1936, yet food companies still use the chemical today.

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    What is Bisphenol A (BPA)

    Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that is commonly used to make polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins are used in products such as: baby bottles, drink bottles, food storage containers, plastic dinnerware, inner linings of food and drink cans, and other non food products. Polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins are popular with manufacturers because of their durability. The problem with them is that BPA breaks down easily and contaminates food and drink products. Fifty-seven percent of canned foods tested by the CDC contained BPA. [CDC 2002]

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    History of Bisphenol A (BPA)

    The chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) was first synthesized in 1891. In the 1930's a study found that BPA mimics estrogen. [Dodds & Lawson 1936, 1938] Despite the studies results showing the estrogenic activity of BPA, food manufacturers widely started lining food cans with a resin containing BPA in the 1950's. Since the Dodds & Lawson study, many more studies have been done that have caused concern over the safety of BPA, yet BPA is so commonly used today that it is hard to avoid. Findings from an environmental study found that BPA is widely existent in natural water sources and does not easily degrade. [Rippen 1999] The CDC found BPA present in 95 percent of adults tested. [Calafat et al. 2005]

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    Health Risks Associated with Bisphenol A (BPA)

    There have been over one-hundred studies that link BPA as a contaminate that can cause cancer and other health conditions in exposed people. Low levels of BPA have been found to be more dangerous than high levels of BPA in one study. [Wetherill et al 2002] This is cause for concern when considering the study conducted by the CDC that showed 95 percent of tested people had BPA present in their bloodstream.

    The following studies are a few of the studies that raise concern about the use of BPA:

    [Murray et al. 2006] Fetal rats exposed to BPA had an increased rate of adult breast cancer, with some rats developing breast cancer in as early as 95 days old. The tests experimented with different levels of BPA, including low levels similar to what humans are exposed to on a daily basis. All BPA levels including low levels, increased breast cancer rates in the rats.

    [Sugiura-Ogasawara et al. 2005] Women who had recurrent miscarriages were found to have higher levels of BPA than other women.

    [Vom Saal, F and C Hughes. 2005] Scientific studies on BPA were analyzed. The conclusion was that low levels of BPA (lower than the FDA considers safe) causes cellular changes, alters fetal development, and adult physiology and development.

    [UK's Exeter Peninsula Medical School] BPA contributes to heart disease.

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    Avoiding Bisphenol A (BPA)

    While it is impossible to completely avoid BPA due to the vast amount of products that contain it and the contamination in the environment, there are things that can be done to reduce exposure. Glass drinking bottles can be used instead of plastic. Food can be canned in glass jars instead of cans. Avoid plastic dinnerware when possible. If plastic is going to be used, look at the bottom of the bottle. Bottles labeled with the recycle code "7' usually contain BPA.