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You are here: Home Resources Living Green Living Green At Home FAQs about Bisphenol A (BPA)

FAQs about Bisphenol A (BPA)

Answers to frequently asked quesitons about Bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial chemical used in hard plastic and epoxy resin.

Answers to frequently asked questions about bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial chemical used in hard plastics and epoxy resin.

1.  What is bisphenol A (BPA)?
BPA was developed as a synthetic hormone, but is now widely used to make hard plastic and epoxy resin. BPA makes plastic clear and rigid in water bottles, baby bottles and reusable food containers. BPA is used in the lacquer that lines food cans, formula cans and soda cans. It is one of the highest-volume chemicals produced in the world.

2. Are the levels of BPA that children are exposed to really harmful?
Most human exposure to BPA comes from the chemical leaching into food and drink from food containers. In September 2008, the National Toxicology Program concluded that there is "some concern"  about brain, behavior, and prostate effects in children who are exposed to BPA at current exposure levels. A 2004 national study estimates that BPA is detectable in the bodies of 93% of people in the U.S. over the age of six.  See more from the National Institute of Health.

3. Doesn’t the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) say Bisphenol A is safe?

In January 2010, FDA  shifted its stance on bisphenol A (BPA) and said that exposure to the chemical is of "some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behaviour and prostate gland in foetuses, infants and young children.'

The agency suggests that parents take reasonable steps to avoid BPA, and is working with industry to support a shift to alternatives for food packaging.

4.  Who is changing their products to become BPA-free?

While some manufacturers and retailers are phasing out BPA in products, there are no recalls -- these products remain on the shelves.

Klean Kanteen bottles are made out of stainless steel and have always been BPA-free. Nalgene and Camelback have stopped using BPA and now use an alternative plastic on their water bottles. Sigg aluminum bottles made after August 2008 are also BPA-free.

The six largest manufacturers of baby bottles will stop selling bottles in the United States made with bisphenol A, after three attorneys general  wrote to the bottle makers and asked them to voluntarily stop using the chemical: Gerber, Avent America,  Evenflo, Disney's First Years, Dr. Brown and Playtex. 

Stores that will stop selling baby bottles made with BPA include: Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, Kroger, Target, Whole Foods, CVS, Wegmans

Chemical manufacturer Sunoco, in a letter to investors, has said it will stop selling Bisphenol A to customers who use it in packaging for children's foods.

5. What are the alternatives to BPA for cans?
Some companies have already found alternatives. Eden’s Foods packs its canned beans in lead-free tin covered steel cans coated with a baked-on oleoresinous c-enamel lining that does not contain BPA. Oleoresin is a natural mixture of oil and a resin extracted from various plants, such as pine or balsam fir. These cans cost 14 percent more than the industry standard cans that do contain BPA. This costs Eden $300,000 more a year.

6. What are governments doing?

Limited bans on BPA have been enacted in Canada, Minnesota and Connecticut, Suffolk County New York, and Chicago.  Similar measures have been introduced in the U.S. Congress and 20 more states. Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued a warning to pregnant and breastfeeding women and children under the age of two to avoid the chemical. California is taking steps to list BPA as a reproductive toxicant on its Proposition 65 list.

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