Bisphenol A (BPA) has been controversial for quite some time and has received intense scrutiny from scientists, the media and even environmental groups. Such scrutiny has resulted in demand from consumers for alternatives to products that contain BPA, and hasty efforts from some manufacturers to provide BPA free products.
While the controversy surrounding BPA may be interesting and important, the controversy by itself does not provide an answer to the key question: Is BPA harmless? BPA did not have any immediate harmful effects when tested for acute toxicity.
However, the effect of continuous exposure to low doses of BPA has some scientists concerned.
BPA is a chemical that is added to many commercial products, including food containers and hygiene products to produce strong and resilient plastics that have been proven to leach out of can linings or plastic containers into the food or drinks according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But are there side effects for the human body? Ebony Lloyd, Biochemist Professor believes so.
“A lot of what happens to the body when it comes to consumption of BPA is that it mimics the body’s natural genetic makeup. For instance, if you have increased BPA in your system a lot of the time, if they do testing, it could show up as high blood pressure. It’ll mimic things like heart disease,” Lloyd said. “Your body is affected by hormones, because BPA can imitate hormones within your body, anything that relies heavily on your hormones can be affected. Essentially when you think about it, there’s blood traveling through your body constantly so any of your vital organs, your heart [which can cause heart disease], your kidneys [kidney disease], hypertension and diabetes too because that affects your endocrine system which obviously has to do with your hormones and how its secreted is one of those things that can affect a wide range within your body.”
With the recent study done by The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains that BPA can be safely used for food packaging and that the recent studies are still not conclusive about the effect of BPA on human health.
Some scientists agree with the FDA sentiment, Anatomy & Physiology professor Sara Sanders questions both sides of the controversy. “We actually don’t know if its harmful or not, it’s one of those things that you can’t prove that is safe or try to disprove that it is unsafe and so until that research that is available that definitively says yes this absolutely causes this in humans, it’s hard to say what the safety of it is,” Sanders said. “Most of the studies are done on animals, like on mice that have different metabolisms than humans, so the only research we’ve only been able to do are on animals and trying to say that whether or not BPA is consumed, we’re determining if its safe or unsafe for humans. People don’t take the time to really look into it. We can’t prove that it is, it’s just speculation.”
Until a verdict is reached, it appears that with some food and drink storage products, you have a choice: BPA-free options, especially for baby and water bottles, are becoming widely available if you choose to make the switch.
However the current data is controversial and it will take time and more studies to determine what effect, if any, BPA has on human health. Ways to help decrease one’s exposure is to be mindful and cognitive when you shop, steer clear of plastics as much as possible, one can even make it a game for yourself.
When you make a grocery list, look at how many items come in a plastic container and see if there are available alternatives to be purchased in glass containers and you would be surprised by how many items come in these plastic products that are obviously lined in BPA.
Whether one believes in the dangers of BPA or not, that is up to the consumer but simply making an effort to reduce plastic use can make a huge difference if not for you, but for the planet.
Kari King is a journalism student at Mesa Community College.