BPA: Why Reusing Plastics May Be Dangerous

Did you know your plastic is killing you?

Sorry for the dramatic title, but I had to get your attention because it's true. Being a thrifty person, especially in the kitchen, I have always reused plastic food containers from the grocery store. I buy lunch meat, butter and desserts that come in the "perfect looking" reusable container. The lid snaps well, it's clear (which I like) so I know what's inside, if I give it to someone and it doesn't make it home, it's ok. So why should I recycle it away when it still has so much use left? Let me share with you why. Recently, I started an eco friendly, organic website and have had the pleasure of doing tons of research and learning so much and I really learned something VERY important about BPA, which is found in everyday things like water bottles, baby bottles, milk cartons, and water pipes.

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What Is BPA And Why Is It Bad?

It' simple, the technical name is bisphenol A (BPA), an estrogen-like chemical found in a variety of common plastics used by most Americans on a daily basis. There is documented evidence that BPA is tied to diabetes, liver disease, cancer of the breast and prostate, brain disorders, and elevated risk of hormonal imbalance. Scientists have known for years that the chemical structure of BPA is quite unstable, especially in the presence of heat. When food and liquid come into contact with these plastic containers, the chemical instability allows BPA to leach into the food.*

YES, THE CHEMICAL LEACHS INTO OUR FOOD AND IT'S WORSE WHEN WE HEAT THE CONTAINER. Sorry to yell, but I still can't believe it, I've have been doing this for years!

As of December 2008, the Federal Drug Administration agreed to reconsider the health risks of BPA. High levels of exposure and slow rate of excretion means that BPA can pose serious health problems to millions of Americans. The Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center confirmed that high levels of BPA can remain in the bloodstream even after fasting for 24 hours. That's crazy, especially when you think how many products we all use a day that have BPA in them. Now you know why I MUST pass on this information.

Ways To Avoid BPA

Now that the scary part is over, let me share with you the better part of what I learned. There are EASY ways to avoid BPA poisoning.

  • The biggest and EASIEST thing to do is to avoid leaving plastic water bottles or baby bottles in the car or outside in the summer heat, since high temps are known to increase the release of BPA from the plastic.
  • Do NOT reuse plastic water bottles and never wash them in the dishwasher to reuse.
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  • Avoid microwaving food or liquids in BPA containers; they are usually stamped with No. 7 on the bottom.
  • When preparing hot food or liquids, use glass, porcelain or stainless steel.
  • Only use BPA-free baby bottles. Check label or for No. 7 on the bottom.

Although there still remains a lot to learn about the effects of BPA, but it is clear that even low level, long term exposure is unsafe. If you want to keep yourself healthy, most scientists are saying to avoid BPA products.

Make The Switch

Now, I know how hard it is not to reuse "perfect looking" BPA container, even when we know we shouldn't. So here are a few tips that I used to make the change easy for me, I hope they can help others.

  • Get three more glass, porcelain or stainless steel bowls for reheating. Buy the small sizes; they will be mostly for reheating.
  • Go to the Good Will store near you, they have a great selection of different shapes and sizes. You don't have to buy new.
  • If you carry water with you, invest in a BPA-free reusable bottle. Filling it up at your tap or the water cooler at work means the bottle pays for itself in no time.
  • Decide you can reuse the "perfect looking" BPA containers, but ONLY for crafts, small household items like screws or storage. Just no liquid storage. Believe me, you'll find plenty of other ways to reuse them and when you do, post your new use at ThrifyFun.com

Help spread the news, the truth is, most folks don't know they are being killed by their plastic habits.

Angela Ringler, Summerfield, FL

*Excerpt from Rallie McAllister, board certified family physician. Rallieonhealth.com

About The Author: The green girls of karmafarmonline.com blog about everday "Green" issues, interesting facts, helpful hints, articles, products,and much more. Come and sit awhile, we always value feedback and suggestions:

June 29, 20090 found this helpful

My father had a small plastics business (vinyl) and I always hated the stuff. I save and reuse glass for leftovers.

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June 30, 20090 found this helpful

There are many different types of plastics, and those with stamps 1,2,4,or 5 do not have BPA in them, according to all the info I could find on the internet, both in government studies, and in studies run by companies. Interestingly enough, hard plastic water bottles, intended to be used repeatedly, and baby bottles seem to be the most common things made with this type of plastic. Not every hard plastic water bottle is made with BPA plastic, so you should check.

I did a quick check in my home, and none of the containers for cottage cheese or such were #7 -- most were #5 which doesn't have BPA.

I doubt very much that we are being killed by our plastic bottles, but certainly there are other alternatives to using this one kind of bottle. All plastic bottles are not the same, and the bottles most beverages are sold in (water, pop, juice), #1, do not contain BPA.

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June 30, 20090 found this helpful

BPA is NOT the only dangerous chemical in plastics. No plastic product that has a PEET code of "1" should ever be reused for food or beverages.Content-Disposition: form-data; name="feedback_date"

When Code 1 products are reused, other petrochemicals that make up the plastic start to leach out of them into the food and beverage stored inside. Many of these chemicals are KNOWN carcinogens.

The FDA has only approved Code 1 plastics for SINGLE use and they should not be reused unless you want to store non-food items in them - toys, crayons, nuts and bolts, puzzle pieces etc.

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July 1, 20090 found this helpful

While I do understand about the dangers of plastic, it makes me crazy to think that there are LOTS of people out there worrying about it when they should be wearing a seatbelt, stopping smoking, and cutting down on saturated fats - the things that are most likely to kill them!

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July 2, 20090 found this helpful

While much of the focus is on plastic bottles, most human exposure occurs through the lining of canned foods. Canned beverages appear to contain less of the chemical than canned foods like soup, pasta, fruits and vegetables, which are often processed at high temperatures. Virtually every canned product, even those labeled organic, has a liner with BPA. One brand, Eden Organic Baked Beans, says it uses a BPA-free can.

How do I lower my exposure?

Switch to frozen or fresh vegetables. Use glass, porcelain and stainless-steel containers, particularly for hot foods and liquids. If you don't want to use a glass baby bottle, several companies, including the popular brand Born Free, now sell BPA-free baby bottles and sippy cups. For formula-fed babies, you can switch to powdered formula rather than liquid.

Although many plastic products claim to be microwave safe, some scientists warn against putting any plastic in the microwave. "There is such a wide variety now, from disposable containers to actual Tupperware", says Dr. Anila Jacob, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based advocacy group. "I don't know of anyone who has done definitive testing of all these different types of plastic containers to see what is leaching into food."

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July 7, 20090 found this helpful

Whoa what a discussion. I had hear about the plastic thing before but you Green girls have done your home work. Thanks for the advise!

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