You may have seen plastic containers labeled “BPA free” and heard that it’s a dangerous chemical. But how much should you worry?
Bisphenol A is an industrial chemical that acts like synthetic estrogen on the body and has been linked to all sorts of bad things in lab animals: cancer, obesity and infertility, to name a few.It appears to be especially dangerous for developing fetuses and young babies. As scary as that sounds, no one really knows exactly how much BPA exposure is safe for humans. So, bottom line, it’s a good idea to avoid it whenever possible, without making yourself crazy in the process. Its use has been banned in baby bottles and sippy cups since 2012 but can still be found in certain plastic products, receipts, children’s toys and the liners of food cans.
Here are five ways to reduce you and your baby’s exposure:
- Avoid canned foods. One study of pregnant women’s urine found that women who ate canned vegetables daily had 44 percent higher concentrations of BPA. Instead, opt for fresh or frozen vegetables, or ones stored in shelf-stable boxes.
- Wash your hands after you handle money and cash register receipts, and if you handle both regularly as part of your job, wear gloves. One study found that 50 percent of cash register receipts and 95 percent of dollar bills are contaminated with BPA. It’s used in the thermal printing process of receipts, then is transferred to the money it comes into contact with, and then can get into your body in small amounts by being absorbed through your skin, or if you touch your eyes or mouth. If you save receipts, keep them in a zippered plastic bag, not in your wallet.
- Instead of buying canned soda, buy it in plastic bottles, or better yet, take your to-go drinks in BPA-free metal or plastic bottle. In general, plastics that are marked with codes codes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 are unlikely to contain BPA.
- Request BPA-free dental sealants from your dentist.
- Breastfeed. Even though BPA is banned in baby bottles, it’s still used to line formula cans.
For more information: