Bisphenol A – Limit Your Exposure Before Pregnancy

An article entitled “BPA contaminants found in most Canadians” posted by CBC News today reminds me of my goal to find and replace as many sources of bisphenol A (BPA) from our home as possible before we become pregnant.

The study found that about 91 per cent of Canadians have detectable levels of BPA in their blood. The concentrations were higher in teens and children aged 6 to 11 than they were for adults aged 40 to 79.

So what exactly is BPA and where is it found?

Bisphenol A is an industrial chemical used to make polycarbonate plastic resins, epoxy resins, and other products. It’s used in various types of food and drink containers such as water bottles, baby bottles and in linings for canned goods and metal lids. It’s also found in cash register receipts, electronics and hundreds of other household items, although my main concern is the sources that can leach BPA into my food!

What’s the concern?

Dozens of animal studies have shown that exposure to bisphenol A can harm reproductive and nervous systems and possibly promote cancers. A new study showed that mice exposed to BPA during pregnancy led to epigenetic changes that might cause permanent reproductive problems for female offspring. Since I don’t feel comfortable waiting until there are conclusive studies on the negative affects of BPA on fertility and reproductive health in humans, I’m going to do my best to remove this and other man-made chemicals from our home to improve our chances of conceiving naturally and having a healthy baby.

Now what?

Thankfully, in 2008, Canada became the first country in the world to ban the import and sale of BPA containing baby bottles but unfortunately it is still being used in other plastics and liners in food and beverage cans. Rick Smith, the executive director of Environmental Defence, said it’s only a matter of time before bisphenol A is banned in all products sold in Canada. Until then…

Here are the steps we are taking to remove BPA from our home:

  • Replacing all our plastic food storage containers with glass alternatives (especially the ones that hold hot foods and liquids)
  • Avoiding plastic containers with the No. 7 recycling label – they’re made with BPA
  • Reducing our use of canned foods and sourcing out companies that make BPA-free cans for those convenient pantry items
  • Replacing plastic kitchen utensils with stainless steel
  • Using glass or stainless steel water bottles
  • Handling minimal amounts of cash register receipts

If you want to reduce your exposure to BPA, here are some additional steps you can take:

  • Choose baby bottles and spill-proof cups made of glass or stainless steel. If you must purchase plastic look for polypropylene (#5) instead of polycarbonate (#7).
  • Breastfeed your baby. (If that’s not possible for whatever reason, avoid using infant formula in cans that use bisphenol A as an epoxy liner.)
  • Don’t microwave polycarbonate plastic food containers. Instead use glass containers.
  • Use stainless steel cutlery instead of plastic.
  • At work, avoid the five-gallon polycarbonate plastic water jugs and instead bring your own filtered tap water.
  • If you continue to use polycarbonate bottles, do not use harsh detergents or put bottles/containers in the dishwasher. These factors help to degrade the plastic and break-down the bonds to release BPA. Instead, clean polycarbonate with warm soapy water and a sponge.

What steps, if any, are you taking to remove plastic and BPA from your home? What are your favourite replacements?

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  1. Julie says

    The easiest (and most economical) way we found to reduce the BPA levels in our home was to purchase a few flats of pint and quart sized canning jars. They store food in the pantry easily, as well as spices and condiments. We use pyrex to reheat food, and any plastic containers we do have are BPA-free, and even those are only washed by hand.

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