Sunday, April 20, 2008

Enough about BPA in plastic bottles - What about BPA in infant formula?

It has been quite a week for BPA. In the five days since the release of the National Toxicology Program report:

Health Canada, the Canadian Health agency announced a move to ban the import and sale of infant bottles made with BPA that will take effect after a 60-day discussion period.

Wal-Mart Canada announced that they will stop selling baby bottles, sippy cups, pacifiers, food containers and water bottles made with BPA immediately.

Wal-Mart announced that they will stop selling baby bottles made with BPA in the US as early as next year.

Nalgene a leading maker of sport water bottles announced that they would phase out the production of bottles containing BPA over the next several months.

Playtex announced that they will convert to BPA-free material by the end of the year, immediately suspend distribution of products made with BPA to all Canadian retail partners and distribute 1 million samples of their BPA-free Drop-Ins Original Nurser System.

In addition, the major networks ran several stories this week, including this ABC News segment.

While all of this is great news for consumers, with the focus primarily on plastic bottles, which are relatively easy to identify and avoid, many people remain unaware of potential exposure from food containers lined with BPA, which have been found by the Environmental Working Group to release the chemical in even higher concentrations. Watching the coverage unfold this week, it was hard not to think that this media blitz is just a diversion from the bigger issue of BPA exposure resulting from canned foods and the current Congressional investigation into the FDA's recommendations on the use of BPA.

But it's Sunday so let's set aside the conspiracy theories and focus on what you can do to minimize exposure to BPA.

Simple Sustainable Strategies to Minimize BPA Exposure

  • Don’t feed your child canned liquid formula. (powder is cheaper anyway)

  • Don’t eat or serve canned foods. (fresh fruit and vegetables are better for you anyway)

  • Don't use bottles with the numbers 3 or 7 in the recycling symbol on the bottom, although not all contain BPA. (number 1, 2 and 4 plastics do not have BPA)

  • Don’t microwave food in plastic containers. (even if they are BPA free other chemicals leach into food when microwaved)

  • Don't use old or scratched plastic bottles.

  • Don't wash plastics in the dishwasher.

  • Use glass bottles and containers for storage and long trips.

  • Use BPA free baby bottles to feed your child.
Interesting Facts About BPA
  • Usage of BPA is regulated by the FDA and International Safety Regulations. (Ref)

  • In the U.S. more than 2.3 billion pounds of BPA is manufactured annually. (Ref)

  • Nearly half of the BPA produced in the US is produced in Texas in plants owned by Dow, Bayer and Hexion Specialty Chemicals. (Ref)

  • The plastics industry in the United States accounts for more than $379 billion dollars in annual shipments and directly employs 1.1 million people. (Ref)

  • The business of chemistry is a $635 billion enterprise. It is one of the nation’s largest exporters, accounting for ten cents out of every dollar in U.S. exports. (Ref)

  • The EPA sets the safe level of BPA exposure to 50 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day (µg/kg/day). (Ref)

  • BPA has been found to have hormone disrupting effects in studies on animals and human cancer cells at levels as low as 2-5µg/kg. (Ref)

  • Infants fed canned formula with bottles containing BPA can consume quantities up to 13 µg/kg/day. (Ref)

  • BPA was found in 93% of the 2,517 participants in a CDC study. The participants registered BPA levels between 0.4 µg/L and 149 µg/L with 57.4% of the participants with levels falling between 0.2 µg/L–20.6 µg/L. (Ref)
After conducting the research there are several questions that I still am seeking answers to including:
  1. When mothers are breast feeding is BPA passed through to breast milk?
  2. Is it possible that the epidemic of childhood obesity is caused by BPA exposure?
  3. Is melamine really safe?
  4. What about the lining in milk, juice cartons?
  5. What about humidifiers?
  6. Is there anything you can do once you have already been exposed?
If you find or know the answers, please comment. Also please provide any additional BPA facts or sustainable strategies to reduce exposure to BPA.


Anonymous said...

this is more of an ethical dilemma. we have a bunch of canned formula that our pediatrician gave us. do we give it away? on one hand, we feel bad about donating formula that could be bad for babies. on the other hand, its free formula..and it's expensive stuff so to throw it away seems wasteful. thoughts?

Sustainable Mom said...

Wow that is a doozy...BPA kind of takes the warm fuzzies out of canned food drives too. But in my opinion, canned food is better than no food. BPA exposure may have some ill effects but starvation leads to death and malnutrition to a whole other host of ills. If you're in NY you can go here, enter your zip at the bottom of the page to find out where to donate.

Anonymous said...

re: does BPA cause childhood obesity?

No, corn syrup does. specifically, soda and every other product we eat containing corn syrup or corn products (almost all food in grocery store, including meat..). and lack of exercise (video games don't count as exercise), etc. Watched a documentary last night called King Corn ( It's about the sickening degree to which we consume corn or corn products in almost EVERY thing we eat (and by we I mean the 99% of America who eats processed food as most of their diet).... anyway, "food" for thought....