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Chemical BPA found in plastics sparks concern

PVCC+student+Thomas+Matthews+displays+the+visual+effect+of+heat+and+plastic.
PVCC student Thomas Matthews displays the visual effect of heat and plastic.

PVCC student Thomas Matthews displays the visual effect of heat and plastic.

Photo by Kaylynn Wohl

Photo by Kaylynn Wohl

PVCC student Thomas Matthews displays the visual effect of heat and plastic.

Kaylynn Wohl, Editor-in-Chief, Puma Press

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Since the 1960s, the industrial chemical bisphenol A (BPA) has been a component in the manufacturing of polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins. It’s profoundly durable and acts as a sealant for metal products such as canned food to prevent spoiling. The benefits of this chemical and why it’s used is outlined by Steve Hentges, Ph.D of American Chemistry Council (ACC); “plastics made with BPA are shatter-resistant, lightweight, high-performance with toughness, optical clarity, high heat resistance and excellent electrical resistance.” However, despite this economical benefit and durability component, the problem is directed at the consumer’s lack of knowledge on what is actually entering their body on a daily basis.

According to Wendee Nicole of Environmental Health Perspectives, “BPA has been implicated as an obesogen, a compound that alters lipid metabolism, promoting development of adipocytes (fat cells) and accumulation of fat,” as determined in a study conducted on mice. Researchers found “a significant increase in fat accumulation and stimulated protein expression of three adipogenic markers—lipoprotein lipase.” This could quite possibly be due to the high exposure rates in contrast to the low-dose consumption consumers have in their everyday life. The “Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to review the available information and studies on BPA and will update its assessment to take additional action if warranted,” according to fda.gov.

Furthermore, the FDA states that “small, measurable amounts of the packaging materials may migrate into food and can be consumed.” The chemical that leaks into food from packaging can be consumed but only in small doses to be considered not harmful.

However, in 2012, the FDA passed a law stating all baby bottles and children’s cups can no longer be produced with BPA, which was initiated by the ACC. This was not due to the notion that the chemical is harmful, but because consumers were demanding manufacturers remove BPA from baby products. The ACC requested the regulation change in September 2011 to “reflect the state of the consumer marketplace and to eliminate confusion for parents, and the FDA agreed,” as debriefed on factsaboutbpa.org.

Katie Gray is an environmentalist, activist and socialist residing in downtown Phoenix. She is also pregnant with her first child. Even long before her pregnancy she avoided products with BPA due to its effects on the developing brain and attributing cause to cancer. In regards to baby products, she states, “As a parent, you want to protect your children as much as you can. That’s why baby stuff comes with a ton of safety precautions. It’s okay for kids to bump their heads, trip over stuff and have some independence. I think too many parents are too concerned with babies getting physically hurt that they forget the most important thing: what you put IN their bodies. I believe in feeding a clean diet to my kids. That includes no foods off of plastic plates or drinks out of plastic sippy cups. Any risk of any brain or heart issues is just too scary to not spend the extra couple bucks on a BPA free product.”

Photo by Kaylynn Wohl
Certain canned food/ beverage companies are changing their composition to please consumers.

The Mayo Clinic website suggests to use BPA-free products; “if a product isn’t labeled, keep in mind that some, but not all, plastics marked with recycle codes three or seven may be made with BPA.” Some companies are even saying no to BPA all together primarily due to public safety concern. Some of these companies are: Trader Joe’s grocery, Amy’s (the company with the bunny logo), Eden Foods (organic food company that has a large cannery line), and even Winco, which supplies plastic water bottles free of this chemical.

Additionally, it is recommended to cut back on cans and avoid microwaving polycarbonate plastics and putting them into dishwashers. Leftover food is frequently put into plastic containers and Tupperware to later be microwaved and eaten. Overtime as the plastic breakdowns, high levels of BPA seeps into the food. You might also want to avoid drinking out of those plastic bottles you leave in your car during Phoenix’s brutal summers.

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Chemical BPA found in plastics sparks concern