FDA Finally Reconsiders BPA
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is finally voicing their concern over the dangers of bisphenol A, or BPA, a chemical additive used in food packaging. BPA can infiltrate and affect many aspects of our environment and bodies, including sperm, eggs, and the developing fetus. Over a hundred independent studies have linked BPA to serious disorders in humans, including prostate cancer, breast cancer, early puberty, diabetes, obesity, altered immune system function, fertility problems such as decreased sperm count, and learning and behavioral problems.
The FDA originally declared BPA safe in 2008, despite the release of studies showing the chemical may not be safe. While it may not impose an immediate threat in food packaging, BPA is actually seeping into food and baby formula from the supposedly safe packaging. BPA has been around since the 1890's, but it wasn't used in food packaging until the 1960's. Around that time, it landed on the GRAS list (Generally Regarded as Safe) as an indirect food additive, and though most GRAS products are indeed safe, this outdated designation has thus far exempted BPA from scrutiny by the FDA. The FDA said as recently as last fall that "the use of bisphenol A in can linings is both safe and vital for food protection."
According to FDA regulations, substances that are granted GRAS status are not subject to FDA review, so this is their reasoning for not taking action sooner against this chemical threat to the health of the American public. Now, the FDA seems to be changing their tune by looking more closely at BPA and its possible harmful effects. The FDA claims it is powerless to do much about it, and a change the law to expand their powers would be the best recourse.
Those familiar with the history of the FDA may fear that more power is the last thing this agency needs, but a bill is now being proposed to Congress that may do just that, and possibly ban BPA in food packaging. The FDA finally addressing the safety concerns over BPA is a great start, but BPA is already found in thousands of plastics and canned goods, and consequently has already infiltrated our bodies and environment. Because we can't just sit around and wait for the FDA to save us, we can take steps to reduce our BPA exposure. To help eliminate BPA and its harmful effects from your life, make these simple changes:
- Store your foods in glass containers
- Avoid processed foods, as these are usually packaged and shipped in plastic containers containing BPA
- Stop buying canned food or drinks, even products that say "BPA free" have been found to contain traces of BPA, so they may not be safe
- If you must use a microwave oven, use glass containers, and avoid actual microwave exposure by keeping the microwave oven in the basement or garage
- Skip the plastic water bottles, and fill your own glass or stainless steel bottles with filtered water
- Stop using plastic shopping bags, as these never biodegrade and just add toxins to the water and soil, and instead use reusable cloth bags
- Use only glass or ceramic dishes in your home and save the plastics for camping
- Avoid using plastic wrap, just cover your glass storage containers with tin foil
- Baby bottles have been found to have high levels of BPA, so use glass bottles and dishes
- Use cloth diapers instead of plastic, and trade in your female hygiene products for chemical and BPA free products that are either organic, or a cup that is reusable and BPA-free, plastic-free, and latex-free
- Don't put your coffee or tea in plastic, many glass and ceramic travel mugs will fit in your cup holder
Take these simple steps to remove the plastics from your diet, and you can feel confident about reducing your BPA intake and avoiding the damaging effects of BPA.