Why I avoid BPA-free plastic
According to kids health expert Kellie Montgomery
Thanks to rigorous research governments around the world have been phasing out Bisphenol A, or BPA plastic for a while now. BPA is an industrial chemical used in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. It’s found in most of our hard plastic household products including water bottles, baby bottles, canned food, plastic food packaging, children’s toys and more. Research has shown that BPA can leach from the plastic into whatever it comes into contact with, especially under heat, and the issue is it’s a known endocrine disruptor. This means it has the ability to imitate our bodies hormones, and interfere with the production of, response to, or action of, our bodies natural hormones.
Because of their small body weight, and rapid growth, babies and children are actually at a higher risk of the adverse effects of BPA exposure. And when you look into the statistics about how widespread our plastic consumption is; it’s pretty frightening. A 2009 CDC study found 10 types of cancer-causing plastic additives in 92 per cent of urine samples taken from 2,517 children aged six years and older.
So, what about BPA-free plastic options?
There are now quite a few alternatives to BPA, found in BPA-free plastics – such as, BPS, BPF, BPAF, BPZ – the list goes on! It’s marketed as a preferable, safer) option to BPA plastic, and is particularly directed towards children’s products. But scientists are suggesting these BPA-free compounds may be just as damaging to our health. Initially, it was thought BPS was more resistant to leaching, but a recent US study found detectable levels of BPS in 81 per cent of urine samples. And whilst the data on BPA-free compounds is, at this stage, fairly limited, early studies suggest they could possess the same endocrine-disrupting and reproductive toxicant behaviours as BPA. The reality is, the BPA-free alternatives are not very different to BPA itself; they share the same basic chemical structure the ‘BP’, with only slight differences from BPA.
The issue is not BPA; the issue is plastic
Aaaaaaahhhh, so what can we do? Well, we need to avoid plastics – BPA-free or not – wherever we can. First up, and most importantly, don’t heat or serve hot food in plastic. It’s unlikely that we’re going to be able to avoid all forms of plastic right now, so it’s critical that we take steps to reduce our exposure, and there are a few easy swaps we can make to help. There are lots of great options for kids tableware that aren’t plastic – look for silicon, bamboo or stainless steel. Replace your children’s (and your own) plastic lunch and drink containers with stainless steel or glass options, and use beeswax or silicone wraps instead of plastic cling film. Buy dried beans over tinned, & tomato passata in glass jars rather than tinned tomatoes. The more processing a food has undergone, the more likely it is that plastic contaminants have entered into the processing chain, so eating a diet rich in wholefoods will support our exposure to plastic as well.
Some of these changes are expensive and daunting; start small, and keep going where you can. Ultimately, it’s better for our health, it’s better for our children’s health, and it’s better for the health of the planet.
Kellie Montgomery is Green + Simple’s kids health expert, she specialises in supporting children’s behavioural, immune, gut, hormonal health and mental health.