Are BPA Substitutes Just as Harmful?

RecyclablesWhen the Food and Drug Administration officially banned bisphenol A (BPA) from kid’s cups and baby bottles last summer, it seemed like a step in the right direction to make kids products are safe. BPA is an industrial chemical used in everything from food packaging to plastics. It mimics estrogen in the body, an overabundance of which can result in thyroid problems, obesity, kidney issues, brain development, reproductive problems and gene regulation, according to studies published by Duke Medicine, Nature, University of California, Berkeley, and the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The Problem With BPA-Free

While the negative effects of BPA exposure are now widely accepted, there now appears to be an equally serious problem. In the rush to meet the status quo and produce plastic products previously made with BPA, manufacturers began using BPA substitutes, primarily bisphenol S (BPS). BPS is now being proven to have nearly the same effects as BPA, according to a study conducted by the University of Texas, published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Environmental Science and Technology published a study last year which found that BPS has a comparable measure of potency to BPA while also taking longer to degrade in the body, thus having longer-lasting effects. The study, which was conducted at the State University of New York, Albany, found that BPS is actually more photo resistant, heat stable and less biodegradable that BPA.

While we’re used to dealing with environmental pollutants where we can depend on environmental companies like Sevenson and organizations like Greenpeace and the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the mess and take care of the problem for us, this is a decidedly different problem. The responsibility to hold manufacturers accountable for using toxic chemicals to make their goods is no one else’s but our own.

Changes Must Be Made

One common reaction from parents when they learn about these effects is “how are companies allowed to do this?” The reason: like criminals, industrial chemicals are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Health advocates have spent years fighting to overhaul the U.S. regulation system to address this oversight. Lindsey Dahl is one such advocate. As the deputy director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, Dahl is working to reverse this process and put the burden of proof on manufacturers with a new bill: the Safe Chemicals Act, in a recent interview with Discovery News. The Safe Chemicals Act is a legislative bill designed to “put common sense limits on toxic chemicals,” according to Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families. Under the Safe Chemicals Act, manufacturers will have to prove the chemicals they use are safe before taking products to market.

What You Can Do

Until further studies are done on BPA and its replacement chemicals such as BPS, it’s safest to avoid plastic cups, bottles, dishware and food packaging that contains BPA. Instead of using plastic sippy cups, dishes and bottles, use shatter-resistant glass products instead. Choose fresh vegetables or dried beans instead of using canned products.

Make your voice heard and write to your local government officials to pass the Safe Chemicals Act and make changes in the legislation. While you may not think one voice will make a difference, if we all raise our voices as one, change can happen.

[About the author: Randy Morris – An art teacher and painter, Randy shares tips on sustainability and how readers can increase wellness.]

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