Thursday, October 7, 2010

BPA in plastics & what does it do

One of the current health issue that many mainstream people have grabbed a hold of lately is the presence of BPAs in many types of plastic and the potential to ingest these chemicals. From my initial analysis of the situation, people are concerned that such ingestion will lead to a variety of diseases, including cancer, overtime. Such media savvy issues and mainstream concerns are of interest to me, one to determine whether I should change my behaviour and two whether the claims from mainstream media and the 'chinese whisper' community sentiment has any validity.

Well firstly what is BPA?

  • Bisphenol A and phthalates are chemicals present in plastic.
  • Used to manufacture hard plastics (such as in plastic water bottles or 'tupperware'-type containers) and flexible plastic (such as in plastic kiddie toys).
  • According to a wikipedia entry BPAs can be contained in plastic products marked with a '3' or a '7' (refer to Recycling Numbers...what do they mean post on 05/07/10....
  • Choice magazine states BPAs are present in polycarbonate bottles & food packaging and some epoxy resins use to line cans.
  • It is an endocrine disruptor and can mimic the body's natural hormones. 
When do they become an issue?
  • It is thought that they 'mobilise' when the plastic is heated. For example, when you are re-heating your lunch in your plastic container or water bottles are left in direct sunlight or heat up in your car, etc.
  • Some sources also indicate they may also just mobilise with the presence of liquid.
What are BPAs reportedly responsible for, in relation to human health issues?
  • Interference with reproductive development (shown in animals) - ScienceDaily
  • Cardiovascular disease -ScienceDaily
  • Diabetes - ScienceDaily
  • Liver disease
  • Obesity - National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
  • Cancer - National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
  • Behavioural changes - National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, etc.
Is there truly reason to be concerned?

  • Evidence is inconclusive and since this is the 'result', some people are saying lean on the side of caution and reduce or avoid use of this plastics or avoid heating your food or drink in such plastics that you plan on ingesting in the future.
  • The USA Food and Drug Administration has called for additional research into the effects of BPAs on humans.
  • A number of web pages, including Choice Magazine, seem to indicate there is a higher level of concern in relation to BPAs and children and babies.
  • Food Standards Australia New Zealand maintain there is no increased risk from BPAs.
  • Tsai, W (2006) in their paper in Journal of Environmental Science and Health states that BPAs are not a carcinogenic risk to humans and excreted in urine. 

So from all of this, I don't know whether to be concerned or not but certainly something to consider and perhaps avoid, where possible.

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