As a mother, I strive to provide the best for my kid. Always. Sounds familiar? This is what all moms tell themselves every single day. In this quest for perfection, we fall short, occasionally. We go by what is popular, than what is right. Recently when I purchased a school lunch box and a water bottle forÂ my child, I was asked if I got her the best food grade plastic, if it was a branded product and if it was BPA-Free. I nodded fervently as I saw the label that had a tick mark beside all these factors. Until, I came upon some startling news.
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What is BPA?
Scientifically speaking it stands for Bisphenol-A. It is an estrogen-imitating chemical that is produced in large quantities for production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics, in simple terms, is found on our day-to-day products such as infant’s toys, water bottles, CD-ROM, DVDs, sunglasses and also in our cellphones. The reason why BPA is causing so much furore is that it can leach from containers into beverages and foods and pose a potential health risk.
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A health survey conducted some years ago deduced that BPA was found in over 93% of 2500-odd people tested. Starting from children’s products to food storage containers and even CD-ROMs and shop receipts, all of these contain BPA that is known to cause innumerable damage to the human body. Hormone imbalances, neurological issues, heart disorders and even cancer are said to be the implications of long-term exposure to BPA.
Image source: National Toxicology Program
To solve this issue, BPA-free products were launched. These were products that did not include the destroying BPA compound in its constitution. These are said to contain BPA substitutes and BPA polymer alternatives. The most common replacement is BPS (Bisphenol S).
The plastic containers or bottles that we regularly use at home contain a number at the bottom. Take a look at them before you buy or use. The ones marked 1, 2,4 and 5 are considered safe. The numbers 3 and 6 are found to contain health risks and are best avoided. The number 7 that is found in many water bottles is polycarbonate and contains the harmful BPA- avoid this at all cost.
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So, what’s the issue?
The entire concept that BPA-free plastics are the new saviour is laughed at by experts and scientists. A study done by Texas researchers in 2013, shows clearly how this Bisphenol S (the popularÂ BPA-free alternative) could impact cellular functions causing cell proliferation and even cell death.A UCLA study also reveals startling facts that show the impact of BPA and BPS on zebra fish embryos, disrupting the reproductive system and how there isn’t much difference in both.
In short, going BPA-free may not be the right way ahead. These alternatives are studied now and found to be as harmful (if not more) than BPA. Many manufacturers have simply traded one endocrine-disrupting chemical for another. So, when shopping for plastic storage containers for your child, the BPA-free sticker that is prominent on the product might not reveal the actual inside story to you.
What is the solution?
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Till a concrete research analysis or a solution for BPA alternatives is proven safe, it doesn’t make much sense in using these BPA-free plastic products. Does it?
- Switch to age-old stainless steel boxes for your family.
- For heating or food storage purposes, opt for glass products that are safer for pregnant women, infants and children.
- Silicone products are also emerging as a fast alternative to plastic.
- Try avoiding the use of canned foods and opt for fresh foods instead.
- Try to avoid plastic in baby teethers and other toys that he/she may have a prolonged exposure to.
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