For a long time many people were questioning the safety of plastic products but didn’t quite know where the danger lay and what exactly we should avoid. BPA (bisphenol-A) soon became the poster child of harmful plastics. Manufactures caved to customer demand and quickly removed BPA from their products and gloated about their so called healthy plastic products.
We are all well aware of the dangers of BPA (bisphenol-A) in plastic products and it is very easy to find BPA-free products today. Whilst BPA has been removed from many plastic drink bottles, it is still heavily used in other common products. One of the worst offenders is tin cans.
Yep, tin cans are lined with plastic made with BPA. This lining can leach plastic residues into the food that is in the tin, especially if it is an acidic product such as tomatoes.
BPA is also used to create ink-less printer paper, such as carbon paper. So, those shop receipts that we touch many times everyday is coated with BPA.
BPA serves an important role in plastic products, and manufactures cannot simply remove BPA without replacing it with something else.
BPS: A Chemical Cousins
So what do the manufacturers use now? Welcome to BPS. BPS (bisphenol-S) has similar properties to BPA that plastic manufacturer’s need, but unfortunately it still contains the detrimental health associations that BPA contain. BPA is well known for its hormone-disrupting actions; in fact it was used as a synthetic oestrogen in the 1930’s to fatten up cattle, and as a hormone replacement for women.
Whilst there have not been many studies released about the dangers of BPS, it is understood that it has similar hormone disrupting effects as BPA. With the knowledge that we have about BPA, I don’t think I need to wait for a study to confirm that we have another harmful plastic in our food chain and commonly used products.
One study conducted on BPS has also been shown it to disrupt heart rhythms in rats1. How this study reflects in human health is not known, but it does show the disruptive effects of these plastics within our bodies.
GreenMedInfo states that
“… BPS’ relative inability to biodegrade indicates: 1) once it is absorbed into the human body, it may accumulate there for longer periods of time. 2) it is more likely to persist in the environment, making external exposures to it, and its many metabolites, much more likely than the faster degrading BPA. In other words, its potential to do harm will worsen along the axis of time, not lessen, which is a common argument made for the purported “safety” of BPA.”
My major concern about these plastics is their exposure to our children.
As a child, my exposure to plastic products is much less than what children are exposed to today. We were not raised with plastic water bottles and the amount of plastic toys that kids are today. Next time you see your child sucking on a plastic toy, or you heat their meal up in a plastic bowl, just think about how much of that plastic is leaching into their little bodies. Their life long accumulation of plastic exposure is frightening, and truth be told, we don’t know how this will effect them long term.
BPS wont be the end of the story, there is also Bisphenol AF, BPK, Bisphenol C, Bisphenol DK F, G, M, S, PH, TMC, and Z waiting in line to be used.
Not all BPA-free products contain BPS, but there is no way of knowing what products contain what. There is an implied safety of products labelled as BPA-free, but in reality if it is made from plastic then you have to question it’s safety.
How to identify harmful plastics
If you look at the recycling number, which are usually on the bottom of the product, number 7 is category of mixed types of plastics that don’t fall into any other categories. The bisphenol plastics falls into this group, so it is best to avoid anything with this number.
The best policy is to try to remove plastic from your life as much as possible. I have been in a process of eliminating plastic from our household and I will write about it in another blog post. You just need to assess each item that comes into your house and slowly replace current items with better choices e.g. current plastic food containers for glass ones.
Some ways to get plastic out of your life include –
- Use glass or ceramic bottles and cups for drinking – often metal drinking bottles are lined with plastics.
- Avoid canned foods and soft drinks
- Use glass containers to store food
- Empty foods from the plastic bags that they came in when you get home
- Buy food that comes in glass or cardboard packaging
- NEVER heat food in plastic containers, this includes foods that come in oven bake or boiling bags.
- Pass on the receipt in the shop
- Buy toys made out of natural products such as wood
It is pretty much impossible to avoid these plastics as they are in the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water that we drink, but we can make the conscious decision to reduce our exposure as much as possible.
1 – Endocrine Society. “Common BPA substitute, BPS, disrupts heart rhythms in females.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140623103935.htm>.