Steps toward a Cleaner Nest. This is the first post in a series examining everyday products we use and how they affect our health.
#1 BPA – The Preposterous Imposter
My name is Chris and I am the husband of the very talented “thisdelectablenest” blogger, master’s student, Beautycounter consultant, mother and wonderful wife, Tristan. Tristan has inspired me on her journey to a healthier, cleaner, tastier, and more full life.
All the sap aside, as a result of Tristan’s investigation into the personal care industry, food products and environmental toxins, I have been astonished at how naïve I am in relation to what I put on my body, in my body and what is floating around my body. I guess I took it for granted that everyone around me was trying to make the world a safer and cleaner place. I was wrong…
As a medical student and pediatrician hopeful, I am interested in treating illness, preventing disease and protecting people, particularly, moms and children. I have been taught to ask the why questions behind disease processes and, believe me, there is a growing list of diseases and conditions that we cannot explain the presence of, especially when it comes to development in the womb and early childhood. This has prompted to me to ask the hard questions, the questions that traditional medicine has yet to ask:
- What are the harmful chemicals in our food and food storage mediums and how do they affect us?
- What environmental toxins are we exposed to and how can we decrease our exposure to them?
- What chemicals are in our personal care products and how do they affect our bodies (and those bodies that depend on us).
Today, I hope to enlighten you on a very hot topic: BPA’s harmful presence in daily lives and what we can do about it. I have learned an incredible amount as I have embarked on my journey and I hope this will help you in yours!
What is BPA?
BPA, whose full scientific name is bisphenol A, is a substance added to storage mediums like plastic to strengthen it without adding much weight to it and metals like aluminum to prevent corrosion. As BPA leaches into the food items that it is in contact with at low levels. The FDA maintains that the BPA found in our food are below the toxic or maximum limit.
What specific items contain BPA?*
- Soda and beverage cans
- Canned food cans
Perishable food wrappers
- Water Bottles
- Baby Bottles/Sippy Cups
- Coffee Mugs
- Some Glass Jars
- Store Receipts
*BPA’s don’t stay on the surface of our skin. They travel right through our pores and into the blood stream.
** This is not an exhaustive list
Why is it a problem?
BPA is an active chemical in the body that has the potential to act as a hormone disruptor, carcinogen (Cancer causer) and developmental toxin. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) says: “It has been linked to a wide variety of ills, including infertility, breast and reproductive system cancer, obesity, diabetes, early puberty, behavioral changes in children and resistance to chemotherapy treatments.”
Now as a medical student, BPA was never addressed in class so I did some research myself…
Are you serious??
A search of scientific journal articles, including the most respected journals in the world, are pointing to BPA as preposterous imposter – it looks and acts like estrogen in our bodies and WEAKLY stimulates different parts that are normally stimulated by the real estrogen. Articles in the last 2 years are finding links to premature puberty, malformed reproductive organs, increases in obesity, AND THE LIST GOES ON.
BPA has even been detected in blood samples from babies in the womb.
In addition to being exposed to BPA in our food and food storage products, the EPA, a US governmental agency, estimates that BPA is being released into the environment at a rate of over 1 million pounds per year.
Take a deep breath… Don’t panic. Everything is going to be OK.
At this point, if you have never heard this before, you are probably horrified and you want to stop reading because the picture is too grim. KEEP READING…
There is Hope!
There are agencies within the government and outside the government that are trying to get BPA banned from the list of substances that are allowed to be in food storage items. The European Union is leading the way in this initiative, already having banned BPA from baby bottles. Canada is not far behind in the same initiative. We need more strict regulations on the chemical industry, particularly in regards to BPA and there are agencies fighting the good fight in that arena. Maybe the US is next.
There are steps being made this arena. What we have to remember is that things will never be perfect, but they can and are getting better. We can also take steps on our own to protect ourselves and our kids from harmful substances like BPA. Ultimately, Tristan and I have realized we need to take steps to become informed consumers. Our dollars vote for the kind of world that we want for us and for our kid(s) and it starts with the products we consume. This is the reason Tristan joined Beautycounter, to help spread the movement of safer personal care products for families AND bring legislative change in the process.
What YOU Can Do to Protect Yourself
In regards to BPA, we have become sticklers about labels on anything that has labels (there are things out there I didn’t even know had labels and descriptions). BPA Free labels are now starting to pop up on product labels, so we always look for those. Here are a steps to make toward a cleaner nest:
- Get rid of those BPA containing Baby Bottles & Sippy Cups and get ones that are BPA AND PHTHALATE free (more to come on phthalates in a later articles)!
- Look for the plastic number on the bottom of the bottle – if it reads #7, it may contain BPA
- Look for the BPA free logo on cans, plastics, etc…
- If the BPA free logo is not on the label, ask your retailer for more information regarding the product.
- Transition from plastic Tupperware and home food storage material to BPA free glass or something BPA free like silicone food storage items.
- Never microwave food in plastic containers.
- Limit the amount of processed food you eat, particularly food that comes in plastic wrapping.
- Do some research on your own. At the end of this article are some trusted sights for good information regarding BPA. Learn what the plastic resin codes mean for each product!
Change is coming and knowledge is the beginning of change. To some degree, we must be well-informed consumers because not all product manufacturers/food retailers are looking out for our safety. I hope you feel aware and empowered, not discouraged, to make changes to how you handle food and drink for you and your little one(s). Each journey starts with a single step, take it with us.
Please let us know if you have any questions about this post. We would LOVE to hear from you and about the steps you are taking towards a cleaner nest in 2017!
Be aware and take care!
Links to Helpful Resources:
- http://www.mountsinai.org/static_files/MSMC/Files/Patient%20Care/Children/Childrens%20Environmental%20Health%20Center/Fact%20Sheet%20-%20Plastic&BPA.pdf (Mt. Sinai Hospital BPA/Phthalate Hand out)
- http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/FoodAdditivesIngredients/ucm355155.htm (FDA fact sheet)
- https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/bisphenol-bpa-action-plan (EPA Fact Sheet)
- http://www.ewg.org/bpa/ (EWG BPA Fact Sheet)
- http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/topics/topic/bisphenol (european food safety authority’s stance on BPA)
- http://enhs.umn.edu/current/2008studentwebsites/pubh6101/bpa/history.html (history of BPA)