BPA danger takes center stage in U.S. health debate
By Leah Carlson Hawknews Writer
Water: A pure, colorless, odorless, and tasteless liquid, essential for plants, animals, and humans. It is also the most widely used of all solvents. Every day millions of gallons of water are used for drinking. A person is supposed to have eight cups of water a day. You might know that fact, but most people don’t see water as a killer or something that is bad for you. Recent studies show that there might be a killer in your water bottle.
Every year more than 8 billion pounds of BPA, or Bisphenol A, are produced. More than 93 % of the U.S residents have measurable amounts of BPA in their bodies. There has also been a noted increase in BPA levels among subjects who consumed canned soup for five days. BPA lines the inside of food and bottle containers. That means it might be in your food and water as well. BPA has been used for years in clear plastic bottles to make them more durable and flexible so the products last longer.
Reports recently released tests of name brand canned products, including soup, juice, vegetables, and tuna, and found at least a small amount of BPA in almost all of them. BPA was also found in products that were labeled BPA free. A few studies show that BPA could be linked to breast cancer and prostate cancer, diabetes, and other serious ailments and conditions. Approximately 30% of the average American’s diet is consumed from canned foods. However, food cans are not the only place where BPA is found. It can also be found in baby bottles, drinking bottles, and other beverage containers.
BPA is a well-studied chemical used primarily to manufacture strong, clear, durable polycarbonate plastic. BPA has been used for decades to produce toys, food containers, and safety and medical equipment. Created nearly 120 years ago, Bisphenol A is a chemical used to add strength and flexibility to many plastic products.
BPA was first invented in 1891 by a chemist in a laboratory. However It wasn’t until 1950 that BPA was used in plastic. Thomas Zinke in 1905 first reported on the essential qualities of BPA, but it wasn’t until 1953 that scientists developed the strong, clear, durable plastic called polycarbonate that contained the chemical BPA. Although BPA was first reported to be safe, recent studies show it is a pollutant in the human body. In 1976, BPA failed to be thought of as safe, and didn’t pass the Toxic Substance Control Act.
In September 2008, the National Toxicology Program determined that BPA might pose risk to human development. Other rising concerns are for early puberty, cancer, and behavioral impacts from early life exposure. Women and children are most vulnerable to this chemical. Recent research done at Harvard School of Public Health showed that girls exposed to the chemical Bisphenol A in the womb showed more behavior problems than those whose mothers had lower levels of BPA. Anxiety, depression, and hyperactivity were seen in these girls. These results were found disproportionally in girls. The study focused on 244 mothers and their children up to age three, and is just one research finding among many that finds the chemical BPA unsafe.
BPA plastic should never be microwaved or exposed to hot liquids; heat can dissolve it into what you are drinking. Anchorage Nurse Hannah Carlson, who is familiar with BPA, , made some interesting comments about BPA.
"We grew up with microwaves, big 'ol microwaves. These microwaves were the newest thing; heat up your food fast and save so much time on cooking! Gradually, they got smaller, they got smarter. These microwaves that took up half of the counter space, were not elevated above the stove or mounted into the cabinets, out of the way. Mom always had a weird feeling about them... she talked about how they would one day find out they were causing cancer, and although the world was getting them, mom cooked without them, and insisted that heating things up in the oven and stove top was just as quick. She would tell us not to microwave our plastic containers at school, and warn us not to keep the plastic on things when we were eating something hot... It wasn't until years later that I heard about BPA. Mom was onto something way back then.”
Human exposure to BPA could be very dangerous. As Americans, we need to be aware of the chemicals around us so we can regulate what we are consuming. The Food and Drug Administration will soon decide what levels of exposure to BPA are safe.