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{"id":555955060809,"title":"Why BPA-Free Doesn't Mean Anything","created_at":"2021-11-08T21:57:46-05:00","body_html":"\u003cscript type=\"application\/ld+json\"\u003e\/\/ \u003c![CDATA[\n{\n \"@context\": \"https:\/\/schema.org\",\n \"@type\": \"Article\",\n \"headline\": \"Why BPA-Free Doesn't Mean Anything\",\n \"keywords\": \"bpa, bpa free, what is bpa, bpa meaning, bpa free water bottles, bpa free meaning, what does bpa free mean, bpa plastic, what does bpa stand for\",\n \"description\": \"Our MD explains why 'BPA-free' doesn't really mean anything from a health context because many of the BPA substitutes are just as harmful if not more. We offer recommendations for safer materials to look for when buying packaged goods.\",\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/blogs\/health\/why-bpa-free-doesnt-mean-anything\",\n\"author\": {\n \"@type\": \"Person\",\n \"name\": \"Taylor Graber MD\",\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/pages\/taylor-graber\",\n \"sameAs\": \"https:\/\/www.linkedin.com\/in\/taylor-j-graber-md-81351642\/\",\n \"jobTitle\": \"Content Partner\",\n \"knowsAbout\": \"medicine, health, anesthesiology, iv therapy, science, drugs, pharmaceutical, medical research, scientific research, medical journals, entrepreneurship, healthcare, orthopedic surgery, biomedical engineering\",\n \"alumniOf\": {\n \"@type\": \"EducationalOrganization\",\n \"name\": [\n \"University of California San Diego\",\n \"Arizona University\",\n \"University of Arizona College of Medicine\"\n ]\n },\n \"memberOf\": {\n \"@type\": \"Organization\",\n \"name\": \"Illuminate Labs\"\n }\n},\n\"contributor\": {\n \"@type\": \"Person\",\n \"name\": \"Calloway Cook\",\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/pages\/calloway-cook\",\n \"sameAs\": \"https:\/\/www.linkedin.com\/in\/calloway-cook\/\",\n \"jobTitle\": \"President\",\n \"knowsAbout\": \"entrepreneurship, dietary supplements, herbal supplements, eCommerce, medical research\",\n \"alumniOf\": {\n \"@type\": \"EducationalOrganization\",\n \"name\": \"S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University\"\n },\n \"memberOf\": {\n \"@type\": \"Organization\",\n \"name\": \"Illuminate Labs\"\n }\n},\n\"editor\": {\n \"@type\": \"Person\",\n \"name\": \"DJ Mazzoni\",\n \"honorificSuffix\": [\n \"M.S.\",\n \"R.D.\",\n \"C.D.N.\",\n \"C.S.C.S.\"\n ],\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/pages\/dj-mazzoni\",\n \"sameAs\": \"https:\/\/www.linkedin.com\/in\/dj-mazzoni-rd-cdn-cscs-00a33038\/\",\n \"jobTitle\": \"Medical Reviewer\",\n \"knowsAbout\": \"exercise, drugs, pharmaceutical, health, workout, strength and conditioning, nutrition, dietetics, medicine, medical research, scientific research, scientific method, healthcare, patient care, wellness\",\n \"alumniOf\": {\n \"@type\": \"EducationalOrganization\",\n \"name\": [\n \"State University of New York College Oswego\",\n \"D’Youville College\"\n ]\n },\n \"memberOf\": {\n \"@type\": \"Organization\",\n \"name\": \"Illuminate Labs\"\n }\n},\n\"image\": {\n\"@type\": \"ImageObject\",\n\"url\": \"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0047\/1524\/9737\/files\/BPA_Free_Thumbnail.jpg?v=1642575628\",\n\"width\": \"2652\",\n\"height\": \"2652\"\n},\n\"citation\": [\n\"https:\/\/www.fda.gov\/food\/food-additives-petitions\/bisphenol-bpa-use-food-contact-application\", \n\"https:\/\/pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/25813067\/\",\n\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC5977157\/\",\n\"https:\/\/pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/26781251\/\",\n\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC4063249\/\",\n\"https:\/\/pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/30921577\/\",\n\"https:\/\/pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/31424294\/\",\n\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC3255175\/\",\n\"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/blogs\/health\/sauna-benefits\"\n],\n\"mentions\": [{\n \"@type\": \"Thing\",\n \"name\": \"plastic\"\n },\n {\n \"@type\": \"Thing\",\n \"name\": \"canned foods\"\n },\n {\n \"@type\": \"Thing\",\n \"name\": \"endocrine system\"\n },\n {\n \"@type\": \"Thing\",\n \"name\": \"BPS\"\n }\n],\n\"datePublished\": \"2021-11-20\",\n\"copyrightHolder\": {\n \"@type\": \"Organization\",\n \"name\": \"Illuminate Labs\"\n},\n\"publisher\": {\n \"@type\": \"Organization\",\n \"name\": \"Illuminate Labs\",\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/\",\n \"description\": \"Illuminate Labs is the most transparent supplement company in the U.S., and is a leading publisher of research-based health information.\",\n \"knowsAbout\": \"supplements, science, nutrition, exercise, health, medication, pharmaceutical, wellness, diet, weight loss, medical research\",\n \"publishingPrinciples\": \"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/pages\/editorial-guidelines\",\n \"logo\": {\n \"@type\": \"ImageObject\",\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0047\/1524\/9737\/files\/Illuminate_Labs_Logo.png?v=1641249064\", \n \"width\": 150,\n \"height\": 150\n},\n \"foundingDate\": \"2019-01-30\",\n \"Address\": {\n \"@type\": \"PostalAddress\",\n \"streetAddress\": \"50 Union Street, Unit 9\",\n \"addressLocality\": \"Northampton\",\n \"addressRegion\": \"Massachusetts\",\n \"postalCode\": \"01060\",\n \"addressCountry\": \"US\"\n},\n \"sameAs\": [\n \"https:\/\/www.instagram.com\/illuminatelabs\",\n \"https:\/\/twitter.com\/illuminatelabs\",\n \"https:\/\/www.linkedin.com\/company\/illuminate-labs-supplements\",\n \"https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/channel\/UCpgSJAsIPb-fZ25djtTxBEA\"\n ]\n }\n}\n\/\/ ]]\u003e\u003c\/script\u003e\n\u003cmeta charset=\"utf-8\"\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan\u003e\u003cem\u003e\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/span\u003e\u003cspan\u003e\u003cimg src=\"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0047\/1524\/9737\/files\/BPA_Free_Article_Header_Image_Optimized.png?v=1636426728\" alt=\"\"\u003e\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e\u003cspan class=\"dc\"\u003eC\u003c\/span\u003eonsumers worldwide are accustomed to “BPA-free” labeling on plastic packaging, but does this really mean anything from a health context? Is BPA-free packaging safer for consumers?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eIn this article we’ll investigate these questions, and also explain the health risks of BPA exposure. We’ll conclude by providing some alternative packaging materials to look for that are safer for you and better for the environment.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2 style=\"text-align: center;\"\u003e\u003cb\u003eWhat is BPA?\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eBPA is short for bisphenol A, and is used as a chemical agent in new plastic formation. It’s also used as an inner lining material in certain products like canned foods to prevent the metal packaging from being damaged. So even a food product like sardines, which is typically sold in metal tins, may be contaminated with BPA.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eUnfortunately the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. government agency that regulates food compliance, doesn’t require that BPA be disclosed on package labeling because \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.fda.gov\/food\/food-additives-petitions\/bisphenol-bpa-use-food-contact-application\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003etheir stance\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e is that it’s safe at current levels found in foods. \u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eWe find this stance to be strange and unscientific given the growing data suggesting harm from BPA exposure, and from a logical perspective given that BPA is not a naturally-occurring compound in food. Often government agencies are lobbied by industry players to avoid stricter compliance measures, which is unfortunate. Consumers should be able to choose whether they want BPA in their food or not.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2 style=\"text-align: center;\"\u003e\u003cb\u003eIs BPA Harmful?\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eThe majority of medical research suggests that BPA exposure is harmful to animals and humans. It tends to be especially harmful to the endocrine system, because it can disrupt estrogen receptor signaling pathways. A \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/25813067\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003emedical review\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e found that BPA bio-accumulates and may lead to infertility.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eA \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC5977157\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003emore recent review\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e categorized BPA as a reproductive toxin, and summarized research studies suggesting BPA may cause cancer. The cancer link stems from BPA’s studied ability to disrupt proper calcium channel signaling, which can cause harmful downstream effects, but more research is needed to conclusively determine this link.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eBPA has also been associated \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/26781251\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003ein medical studies\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e with increased cardiovascular risk. Patients with higher BPA exposure suffered more cardiovascular incidents.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eGiven all of the negative studied responses to BPA exposure, we conclude that it’s harmful. There is zero nutritional benefit to BPA exposure and a large potential risk profile that affects multiple organ systems. It’s nearly impossible to avoid BPA exposure entirely in the modern world, but we recommend limiting its exposure as much as possible.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eWe find it unacceptable that the FDA believes BPA is safe in light of the data.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2 style=\"text-align: center;\"\u003e\u003cb\u003eIs BPA-Free Packaging Safer?\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eWith more and more consumers becoming aware of the health risks of BPA exposure, many manufacturers and food brands have begun advertising “BPA-free” on their labels. At first consideration, this appears to be beneficial because we know BPA is likely harmful.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eBut what most consumers aren’t considering is what BPA is being replaced with, and the comparative risk.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eManufacturers of a canned fish product, for example, aren’t simply removing BPA and allowing their packaging to erode. They’re simply using a different plasticizing chemical in BPA’s place; usually one with less name recognition.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003ePreliminary medical research finds that these BPA replacement chemicals are often no safer than BPA, and can even be more dangerous. \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC4063249\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eA study\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e in the Environmental Health journal found BPA-free packaging to have similar levels of estrogenic activity to packaging with BPA.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eBisphenol S (BPS) is one of the most common BPA alternatives, and its use allows manufacturers to list “BPA-free” on their label. Medical studies show it may be even more harmful than BPA.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eAn \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/30921577\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eanimal study\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e found that BPS exposure in parents may promote obesity in offspring. The chemical interfered with proper cholesterol and blood sugar functioning, and this disruptive effect had negative consequences on obesity in offspring. \u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eAnother \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/31424294\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eanimal study\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e found that BPS caused as much reproductive harm as BPA.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eFrom the available research, we can conclude that BPA-free packaging isn’t necessarily any safer than packaging with BPA. Because “BPA-free” is a broad term encompassing many chemicals, it doesn’t allow consumers to make an informed decision.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eMuch like the use of “natural flavorings” in food products, “BPA-free” is just a catch-all term that allows manufacturers to hide the actual chemicals they’re using. We recommend that consumers reach out to \"BPA-free\" product manufacturers to ask what chemical(s) were used in place of BPA.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eUltimately we would like to see the FDA require U.S. manufacturers to list potentially hazardous chemicals on their product label, but we don’t foresee this coming anytime soon.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2 style=\"text-align: center;\"\u003e\u003cb\u003eHow Can I Reduce My Risk?\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eIf you’ve read to this point, you’re probably curious about how you can reduce your risk of exposure to these potentially dangerous chemicals. The simplest way is to limit exposure to plastic of any type as much as possible. Eating from ceramic kitchenware and drinking out of glass is safer than eating and drinking from plastic. Limiting consumption of single-use plastic bottled water is beneficial both for your health and for the environment.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eMany reusable water bottles contain BPA or BPA-mimicking chemicals like BPS. We recommend stainless steel water bottles. Ask your manufacturer if any chemicals are used in the inner lining.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eBuying fresh or frozen fish will be safer than buying canned fish due to the lining material, but we don’t find this to be as big of a concern as estrogenic chemicals in water bottles. Since water is consumed many times daily, the cumulative exposure to these chemicals would be greater from a water bottle than from a food product like fish that may be consumed a few times weekly.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eSweating is a legitimate way to reduce BPA bioaccumulation. A \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC3255175\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003efascinating medical study\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e found that sweating releases BPA through the skin and reduces levels of the toxin in the body. Vigorous exercise is a great way to induce sweating, but sauna use may be a more therapeutic measure since it increases sweating beyond levels from exercise. Sauna use \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/blogs\/health\/sauna-benefits\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003ealso has other health benefits\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e which we documented in the linked article.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2 style=\"text-align: center;\"\u003e\u003cb\u003eConclusion\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eBPA-free is a meaningless and potentially deceptive designation used by manufacturers to falsely increase consumer confidence in the safety level of products.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eBPA is harmful to human health but so are many chemicals used as BPA substitutes like BPS.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eWe recommend that consumers reduce plastic exposure as much as possible, as this is the clearest way to reduce BPA and plasticizing chemical exposure. Supporting businesses with non-toxic packaging will help the plastic alternatives industry grow and make for a better world.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eFor those who can’t avoid BPA exposure, like consumers in a region with very poor water quality who are forced to use single-use plastic bottled water for their daily needs, we recommend daily sweating through exercise as a healthy and natural way to reduce bioaccumulation of BPA.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e","blog_id":49281925193,"author":"Calloway Cook","user_id":26601750601,"published_at":"2021-11-20T12:00:00-05:00","updated_at":"2022-01-19T02:04:15-05:00","summary_html":"\u003cmeta charset=\"utf-8\"\u003e\n\u003cdiv class=\"Polaris-Card_yis1o\"\u003e\n\u003cdiv class=\"Polaris-Card__Section_1b1h1\"\u003e\n\u003cdiv\u003e\n\u003cp class=\"Sd8DF\"\u003eWe explain why \"BPA-free\" doesn't really mean anything from a health context because many of the BPA substitutes are just as harmful if not more. We offer recommendations for safer materials to look for when buying packaged goods.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003c\/div\u003e\n\u003c\/div\u003e\n\u003c\/div\u003e\n\u003cdiv class=\"Polaris-Card_yis1o\"\u003e\n\u003cdiv class=\"Polaris-Card__Header_z4uwg\"\u003e\u003c\/div\u003e\n\u003c\/div\u003e","template_suffix":"","handle":"why-bpa-free-doesnt-mean-anything","tags":"_related:food-safety"}

Why BPA-Free Doesn't Mean Anything

Why BPA-Free Doesn't Mean Anything


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Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about what makes our site the premier resource for online health information.
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Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about what makes our site the premier resource for online health information.


Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about what makes our site the premier resource for online health information.

Consumers worldwide are accustomed to “BPA-free” labeling on plastic packaging, but does this really mean anything from a health context? Is BPA-free packaging safer for consumers?

In this article we’ll investigate these questions, and also explain the health risks of BPA exposure. We’ll conclude by providing some alternative packaging materials to look for that are safer for you and better for the environment.

What is BPA?

BPA is short for bisphenol A, and is used as a chemical agent in new plastic formation. It’s also used as an inner lining material in certain products like canned foods to prevent the metal packaging from being damaged. So even a food product like sardines, which is typically sold in metal tins, may be contaminated with BPA.

Unfortunately the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. government agency that regulates food compliance, doesn’t require that BPA be disclosed on package labeling because their stance is that it’s safe at current levels found in foods. 

We find this stance to be strange and unscientific given the growing data suggesting harm from BPA exposure, and from a logical perspective given that BPA is not a naturally-occurring compound in food. Often government agencies are lobbied by industry players to avoid stricter compliance measures, which is unfortunate. Consumers should be able to choose whether they want BPA in their food or not.

Is BPA Harmful?

The majority of medical research suggests that BPA exposure is harmful to animals and humans. It tends to be especially harmful to the endocrine system, because it can disrupt estrogen receptor signaling pathways. A medical review found that BPA bio-accumulates and may lead to infertility.

A more recent review categorized BPA as a reproductive toxin, and summarized research studies suggesting BPA may cause cancer. The cancer link stems from BPA’s studied ability to disrupt proper calcium channel signaling, which can cause harmful downstream effects, but more research is needed to conclusively determine this link.

BPA has also been associated in medical studies with increased cardiovascular risk. Patients with higher BPA exposure suffered more cardiovascular incidents.

Given all of the negative studied responses to BPA exposure, we conclude that it’s harmful. There is zero nutritional benefit to BPA exposure and a large potential risk profile that affects multiple organ systems. It’s nearly impossible to avoid BPA exposure entirely in the modern world, but we recommend limiting its exposure as much as possible.

We find it unacceptable that the FDA believes BPA is safe in light of the data.

Is BPA-Free Packaging Safer?

With more and more consumers becoming aware of the health risks of BPA exposure, many manufacturers and food brands have begun advertising “BPA-free” on their labels. At first consideration, this appears to be beneficial because we know BPA is likely harmful.

But what most consumers aren’t considering is what BPA is being replaced with, and the comparative risk.

Manufacturers of a canned fish product, for example, aren’t simply removing BPA and allowing their packaging to erode. They’re simply using a different plasticizing chemical in BPA’s place; usually one with less name recognition.

Preliminary medical research finds that these BPA replacement chemicals are often no safer than BPA, and can even be more dangerous. A study in the Environmental Health journal found BPA-free packaging to have similar levels of estrogenic activity to packaging with BPA.

Bisphenol S (BPS) is one of the most common BPA alternatives, and its use allows manufacturers to list “BPA-free” on their label. Medical studies show it may be even more harmful than BPA.

An animal study found that BPS exposure in parents may promote obesity in offspring. The chemical interfered with proper cholesterol and blood sugar functioning, and this disruptive effect had negative consequences on obesity in offspring. 

Another animal study found that BPS caused as much reproductive harm as BPA.

From the available research, we can conclude that BPA-free packaging isn’t necessarily any safer than packaging with BPA. Because “BPA-free” is a broad term encompassing many chemicals, it doesn’t allow consumers to make an informed decision.

Much like the use of “natural flavorings” in food products, “BPA-free” is just a catch-all term that allows manufacturers to hide the actual chemicals they’re using. We recommend that consumers reach out to "BPA-free" product manufacturers to ask what chemical(s) were used in place of BPA.

Ultimately we would like to see the FDA require U.S. manufacturers to list potentially hazardous chemicals on their product label, but we don’t foresee this coming anytime soon.

How Can I Reduce My Risk?

If you’ve read to this point, you’re probably curious about how you can reduce your risk of exposure to these potentially dangerous chemicals. The simplest way is to limit exposure to plastic of any type as much as possible. Eating from ceramic kitchenware and drinking out of glass is safer than eating and drinking from plastic. Limiting consumption of single-use plastic bottled water is beneficial both for your health and for the environment.

Many reusable water bottles contain BPA or BPA-mimicking chemicals like BPS. We recommend stainless steel water bottles. Ask your manufacturer if any chemicals are used in the inner lining.

Buying fresh or frozen fish will be safer than buying canned fish due to the lining material, but we don’t find this to be as big of a concern as estrogenic chemicals in water bottles. Since water is consumed many times daily, the cumulative exposure to these chemicals would be greater from a water bottle than from a food product like fish that may be consumed a few times weekly.

Sweating is a legitimate way to reduce BPA bioaccumulation. A fascinating medical study found that sweating releases BPA through the skin and reduces levels of the toxin in the body. Vigorous exercise is a great way to induce sweating, but sauna use may be a more therapeutic measure since it increases sweating beyond levels from exercise. Sauna use also has other health benefits which we documented in the linked article.

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Conclusion

BPA-free is a meaningless and potentially deceptive designation used by manufacturers to falsely increase consumer confidence in the safety level of products.

BPA is harmful to human health but so are many chemicals used as BPA substitutes like BPS.

We recommend that consumers reduce plastic exposure as much as possible, as this is the clearest way to reduce BPA and plasticizing chemical exposure. Supporting businesses with non-toxic packaging will help the plastic alternatives industry grow and make for a better world.

For those who can’t avoid BPA exposure, like consumers in a region with very poor water quality who are forced to use single-use plastic bottled water for their daily needs, we recommend daily sweating through exercise as a healthy and natural way to reduce bioaccumulation of BPA.





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