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Bisphenol A (BPA): Answers to Questions

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About the Plastics Chemical Bisphenol A

What does the FDA say?

In 2008, the FDA issued a draft report stating that BPA is safe at current levels of exposure.

But in 2010, the agency changed its position as further evidence accumulated. The FDA's web site states that it “shares the perspective of the National Toxicology Program that recent studies provide reason for some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland of fetuses, infants,and children. FDA also recognizes substantial uncertainties with respect to the overall interpretation of these studies and their potential implications for human health effects of BPA exposure.”

On March 30, 2012, the FDA denied a petition filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) that asked the FDA to ban BPA in food packaging. In its response letter to the NRDC, the FDA states that it "takes this concern seriously" and is "continuing to review scientific data concerning the safety of BPA," but there was not enough scientific evidence to support the ban.

How can I avoid bisphenol A?

You probably can’t -- not entirely. BPA is in so many types of consumer products and packaging that virtually everyone has some levels of BPA in his or her body.

But if you are concerned, there are ways to reduce your exposure. Some tips from the Breast Cancer Fund and Frederick vom Saal, PhD, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri and one of the leading researchers into BPA:

  • Eat fresh, non-prepackaged food whenever possible. In a study published in March in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, families reduced their BPA levels by 60% to 75% after just five days of eating freshly prepared organic meals that avoided contact with packaging containing BPA.
  • Switch to stainless steel and glass food storage and beverage containers.
  • Microwave foods in ceramic or glass containers, rather than plastic.
  • Limit canned foods, especially those that are acidic, salty, or fatty. BPA is more likely to leach into those foods from the can lining. These particularly include: canned coconut milk, soups, meats, fruits, vegetables, juice, fish, beans, and meal-replacement drinks.
  • Don’t put hot or boiling liquids in containers made with BPA.
  • Discard scratched plastic bottles; scratches can lead to greater release of BPA. (Even if the bottle doesn’t contain BPA, scratches can harbor germs.)
  • Choose fresh fruits and vegetables when possible, and frozen if not.
  • Tell the store clerk that you don’t want your receipt. If you really need it, don’t crumple it into your pocket; hold loosely between your thumb and forefinger until you file it away.

The FDA's web site also has this information for parents who want to minimize their baby's exposure to BPA:

  • Follow health guidelines to breastfeed babies for at least 12 months whenever possible. If that's not an option, the FDA states that iron-fortified infant formula "is the safest and most nutritious option. The benefit of a stable source of good nutrition from infant formula outweighs the potential risk of BPA exposure."
  • Don't heat cans of infant formula on the stove or in boiling water. You can serve it at room temperature or run warm water over the outside of the baby's bottle.
  • Discard scratched baby bottles and infant feeding cups.
  • Don't put boiling water or very hot water, infant formula, or other liquids into bottles that contain BPA when preparing them for your child.
  • Only use containers marked "dishwasher safe" in the dishwasher and those labeled "microwave safe" in the microwave.
  • Discard all food containers with scratches, as they may harbor germs and may lead to greater release of BPA.

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