BPA was first discovered by Patricia Hunt and other researches at a small school in the foothills of the Palouse called Washington State University.
While performing research on mice, their mousal subjects suddenly became sterile and were not getting pregnant. Upon investigation, the one thing that had changed in the study was that the water bottles and cages they were using were harshly scrubbed. They later found in subsequent studies of this phenomenon that a subtance called Bisphenol A, or BPA, had leached out from the water bottles and cages.
BPA is an endocrine disruptor, which results in obesity, breast cancer, neurological defects, disruption of the dopaminergic system, thyroid function, neuroblastoma, prostate cancer, heart disease, diabetes, sexual dysfunction, changes in sexual behavior (all information found in Wikipedia), and chromosomal abnormalities. BPA can be found in plastic bottles with recycling numbers 7, 1, 2, and 5 (but different sources state different numbers), dental sealants, and linings of metal cans. The BPA leaches from the plastic when it is heated, such as when its microwaved or holds a hot food, and the amount that leaches increases as the plastic ages. BPA also enters food from the lining in metal cans when the food contents are high in fat or salt.
Scientists say 95% of Americans have BPA in them, and even small amounts, according to Patricia Hunt, are harmful because BPA acts as a hormone. So, it doesn't matter how low the dose. Most other countries have banned BPA, but the US has political hang-ups.
So, how to avoid BPA?
Here's a list I came up with:
1. Avoid plastics. Ditch the plastic containers for these glass ones:
and avoid microwaving your foods in plastic bowls or containers.
2. Ditch the plastic servings spoons for metal, or (to protect the tephlon in the pan) wooden (without varnishes).
3. Avoid canned foods, especially salty and fatty foods in metal cans, such as chili, vegetables, canned salmon or tuna, refried beans, soups or broths. BPA is absorbed into salty and fatty foods.
4. Eliminate foods purchased in a plastic containers with polycarbonate. (I'm going to have to write to WIC about this). Some contain BPA while others do not.
5. Dental Sealants
tough luck :(
6. Throw out the old plastic cutting board and use a wood, stone, or glass one7. ...and the plastic sippy cups. Look for the sign "BPA free" on new bottles.8. ...and the old juice pitcher.
9. Look for bottles that say "BPA free." Most baby bottles, even at the dollar store, are available BPA free. Or, go with glass. (BPA is also in bottle nipples, pacifiers, and toys, however.) Also, look for this label on infant formula, as the lining of formula cans also may contain BPA.10. Avoid using the steamer basket and spoon that comes with the rice cooker? (Isn't a rice cooker wonderful for perfectly cooked rice?)
One reader of the Seattle times states: "The metal can food and drink industries have lost me as a consumer. I purchased a good quality modern design pressure cooker at PCC, and cook beans from scratch in about half an hour. I now buy my tomato paste and sauce, and any other 'canned' goods in glass jars, or I use fresh, frozen, or dried foods. I encourage anyone concerned about health to do the same."
According to one blog post comment, the following are safe:
"Teflon-coated cookware does not contain BPA. Silicone-impregnated parchment paper, silicone bakeware, and silicone (or polyurethane) spatulas do not contain BPA.
"Low-density polyethylene wraps and bags do not contain BPA. "Wax paper does not contain BPA. Opaque measuring utensils (high-density polyethylene) do not contain BPA, but hard transparent utensils may contain BPA if they are made of polycarbonate rather than acrylic.
"Basically, it's polycarbonate and epoxy. Other plastics do not contain BPA."
However, plastic wraps such as Reynolds can contain another hormone distrupter that leaches into the food called DEHA.
Read more about BPA:
How BPA affects chromosomes across three generations
Legislative news in Seattle Times
Washington State Magazine
Journal Sentinnel Online Watchdog Report
Environmental Working Group Consumer tips to avoid BPA exposure
The FDA is slowly taking steps to eliminate BPA. Until then... (in the concluding words of 60 Minutes on MSG) we're "on our own."
There are more hazards to plastics than just BPA. Please read about DEHP and DEHA, too.