Sunday, May 10, 2009

BPA, what?????


BPA= Bisphenol-A. This is a hormone-disrupting chemical recently linked to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. It has been found in children’s baby bottles and many hard plastic sport’s bottles. Always check your plastics! Numbers on the bottom in the arrowed recycle symbol shed some light on what type of plastic you have. At this moment plastics with the numbers 1, 2, 4, and 5 are considered safe. 3, 6, 7 are to be avoided as they can leach chemicals into food and water.

#1 is polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE). Soft drink and water bottles are many #1 plastics. Most places recycle these and they are considered safe for single use. Refilling these types of water bottles is not recommended. Most plastics are not considered safe once heated up so leaving a water bottle in the car is another no no.

#2 is high density polyethylene (HDPE) These are your milk jugs, shampoo bottles, etc. They can also be recycled in most places.

#3 is polyvinyl chloride (V or PVC) Examples of this type of plastic include plumbing pipes, cooking oil bottles, and meat cling wrap. PVC contains softeners called phthalates. Phthalates are chemicals used to make rigid plastics soft. These chemicals interfere with hormonal development.

#4 is low density polyethylene (LDPE) Cling wrap, grocery bags, and sandwich bags are your main sources. Although considered safe, mostly unnecessary. Reusable shopping bags and containers can be used. Something to think about!

#5 is polypropylene (PP) I find #5 a lot…yogurt cups, colored plastics. Considered safe, but not all areas recycle unfortunately.

#6 is polystyrene (PS) This is some of your disposable coffee cups and take-out containers. Polystyrene-foam cups and clear plastic take-out containers can leach styrene, which is a possible human carcinogen, into food. Carcinogen = a substance capable of causing cancer. Think about a reusable coffee cup and bring along your own take-out containers. I found a coffee place that uses corn based compostable coffee cups. Support your considerate establishments whenever possible.

#7 is labeled with the confusing “other” category. Plastic with BPA as well as newer BPA free plastics are in the same category. Confusing, yes. Unless a #7 plastic is labeled BPA free I avoid it. Stainless steel water bottles are a good alternative. You can even get sippy cups made out of stainless steel from Kleen Kanteen. Tip: Stainless steel water bottles stay cold a long time if you fill them with something from the refrigerator, but children tend not to like the cold wet feel of the outside. I have found that a patterned kid’s sock makes the perfect cover—why buy a cover when you can use what you have at home!!!

I try to avoid plastics whenever possible. I bought bamboo plates and stainless steel bowls for my children. If you REALLY want to take it to extremes, which I did, you can switch out your coffee maker, too. Remember heating plastic releases more chemicals. That was a big thing with the BPA plastic baby bottles- people were warming the milk. Well, most drip coffee makers are made with that hard plastic and you are running boiling water through it. I switched to a Bodum Chambord Coffee Press It is glass and stainless steel. The little plastic it has is BPA-free. Baby steps people! You can’t change it all in one day and don’t freak yourself out. Just good to be aware.


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