Bisphenol A (BPA) is a plasticizer used as the structural component of many plastic containers, beverage bottles and lining of food cans. Its optical clarity makes BPA suitable for making components of many medical devices and their housing. Products like bike helmets, police shields, reading glasses and bullet-proof glass contain BPA for its shatter proof properties. These are just a few examples of products that can expose us to BPA. BPA is toxic if ingested, inhaled or if it gets into our bodies through skin contact. If products containing BPA are heated, it decomposes and emits acrid and irritating fumes that can cause an allergic reaction.
BPA can leach out of containers and get into our food and drinks. BPA is known to disrupt normal hormonal activity and cause infertility. If it gets into our water system, it is toxic to aquatic life. Use of plastics in day-to-day life is increasing and as a result exposure to BPA is also increasing. Reports show that BPA level in human blood and tissues, including in human fetal blood, is higher than the proposed safe levels by the FDA. Long term effect of exposure to BPA in adulthood or during fetal life is that it alters neurobehavioral development. The FDA released a statement saying that BPA is safe at the current levels occurring in foods. Based on FDA’s ongoing safety review of scientific evidence, the available information continues to support the safety of BPA for the currently approved uses in food containers and packaging.
What we can do to reduce exposure to BPA is to seek BPA-free products and reduce use of canned foods and avoid exposing plastic containers to heat by not putting them in the microwave or dishwasher. We can also use alternatives like glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers for hot foods and liquids instead of plastic containers.