By now, most people have heard about bisphenol A, a synthetic estrogen otherwise known as BPA, which was famously removed from baby bottles, sippy cups, and other baby products in 2012, thanks to pressure from health advocates. In numerous studies, BPA has been linked to endocrine disruption, and everything from cancer to asthma to reproductive issues.
Well, you might be surprised how many products these days still contain BPA. And, although the news flew relatively under the radar, the FDA has just reaffirmed its puzzling stance that consumers are not in danger of the chemical, allowing it to remain as a lining in canned foods.
The December 2014 statement was seen as a huge win by U.S. can-makers, who would have to spend millions to change production on cans to figure out how to make their products without the use of BPA.
So, What Is a Safe Level of BPA, Anyway?
Much of the discussion about BPA seems to surround just what level is safe versus unsafe to humans. The canned foods industry has maintained that—while BPA linings can leach out into food and drink—it’s not in levels that are dangerous. But studies and many reputable scientific experts disagree, stating that BPA can be harmful even at low doses.
In fact, in 2009, the Endocrine Society posted this statement: “…even infinitesimally low levels of exposure—indeed, any level of exposure at all—may cause endocrine or reproductive abnormalities, particularly if exposure occurs during a critical developmental window. Surprisingly, low doses may even exert more potent effects than higher doses.”
What Else Contains BPA?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which found that 90 percent of Americans have traces of the synthetic compound in their system at any given time. Check out this list of surprising BPA sources.
Is the BPA Alternative Safe?
Ironically, all of this news comes at the same time as a new study questioning the safety of the most commonly used BPA alternative. When products moved away from BPA, many switched to an alternative called bisphenol S. But in study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in January 2015, researchers from the University of Calgary found that bisphenol S causes abnormal growth surges of neurons in an animal embryo.
What Can You Do to Keep Your Family Safe From BPA?
Stay informed about what products contain BPA, and now also the alternative bisphenol S. The Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) has excellent in-depth resources on chemicals like BPA if you want to dig deeper.
And stay active with state and federal government to let your voice be heard. Large groups of concerned citizens, particularly parents, have shown that it is possible to drive policy change. So get involved and be heard!