“BPA Free” not as safe as you thought


If you’re like me, you probably check that any plastic gadget going anywhere near your kids’ mouth or little hands has the “BPA Free” label. However, new research suggests that this might not be enough to keep toxins away from your family, as some manufacturers are simply replacing Bisphenol A with other–potentially more–harmful chemicals.

The reason you want to stay away from BPA is that it can leach into foods and drinks, potentially disrupting human hormonal activity. BPA is known as an “estrogenic-mimicking” compound. Pregnant women, infants, and toddlers are especially sensitive to its effects.

A study released in August 2012 by Toxicology In Vitro found that, since the 2011 European ban on BPA use for baby bottles, manufacturers have been using a similar compund, Bisphenol S (BPS), to replace it not only in bottles but in all kinds of hard-plastic products. The study concludes that “the estrogenic activity of Bisphenol A and Bisphenol S is of a comparable potency.” Even worse, the researchers believe BPS might be more harmful than BPA to environmental and human health because it takes longer to biodegrade.

In June this year, the journal Chemosphere published further concerns about other types of Bisphenol being used to replace BPA. It said that Bisphenol AP, Bisphenol M, and Bisphenol P are all currently used in generic consumer products, even though they have “genotoxic potentials that are greater than that of BPA.”

Yet another study, published by Environmental Health Perspectives, adds reasons to be wary of the BPA Free stickers. Researchers tested numerous plastic products labelled BPA Free to see if they still showed signs of estrogenic activity, or EA. They summarize their results like this: “Almost all commercially available plastic products we sampled—independent of the type of resin, product, or retail source—leached chemicals having reliably detectable EA, including those advertised as BPA free. In some cases, BPA-free products released chemicals having more EA than did BPA-containing products.”

This is definitely a source of concern for everyone, but most importantly for those with young children. I certainly didn’t know about BPS and the other harmful types of Bisphenol, and will keep an eye on this research in the months to come.

I’ll write about how my family tries to stay away from plastic products (not always successfully) in a different post. If you have any comments or questions about this, please feel free to share them below.