Bisphenol A (BPA)

What is BPA?

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a chemical used to make polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins.

Where is BPA found?

BPA is the building block for polycarbonate, a hard, strong plastic used to make compact disks, eyeglass lenses, drinking glasses, water bottles, and baby bottles. The insides of many metal food and drink cans are coated with an epoxy that contains BPA. This coating keeps the food from contacting the metal and helps increase the shelf-life of canned products. Lids for glass baby food bottles may also be lined with a material that contains BPA.

How does BPA get into the body?

Almost everyone in the U.S. is exposed to BPA from their diet. Some BPA from polycarbonate bottles and metal can linings gets into food, drinks, and water that people consume.

Can BPA affect my child's health?

Recent studies suggest that some children may be exposed to enough BPA in their diet to be harmful. Most of these studies used laboratory animals, but the levels of BPA were similar to those that many children have today. BPA can affect brain development, behavior, and the prostate gland.

Is it safe to breastfeed my baby if I have BPA in my body?

Yes, health experts still recommend breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has life-long health benefits for both mothers and their babies and reduces the risk of some health conditions such as obesity and diabetes. Mothers can reduce how much BPA is in their breast milk by reducing BPA in their diet. If you don't breastfeed, consider using powdered formula instead of pre-mixed or concentrate.

How can I reduce exposure?

  • Don't use a microwave to heat foods in polycarbonate baby bottles or food containers.
  • Don't pour hot liquids into polycarbonate baby bottles or food containers.
  • Don't wash polycarbonate plastic containers in the dishwasher with harsh detergent.
  • Use fewer canned foods. Eat fresh or frozen foods or items packaged in cardboard "brick" cartons.
  • Use baby bottles that are BPA-free.
  • Use pacifiers and toys that are BPA-free.
  • Switch to glass or porcelain particularly for hot food or liquids.
  • Don't wash plastic containers in the dishwasher with harsh detergent.
  • Replace old or scratched plastic containers, including water bottles.

How do I know if a bottle has BPA in it?

Polycarbonate, which is made from BPA, is a hard, clear plastic that may be tinted in many colors. Look for the recycle number on the bottle. If it is a number 7 and has the letters “PC” the bottle contains BPA. While all polycarbonate bottles are number 7, some companies do not add the “PC” label. Also, not all plastic with a number 7 label contains BPA. But if the bottle is clear and hard and has the number 7, it could contain BPA.

What is being done about BPA?

Washington law bans the sale of certain products containing BPA. Beginning in July 2011, BPA may not be used in bottles, cups, and other empty food and drink containers intended for children under 3. BPA is also banned in sports bottles beginning in July 2012. Washington joins several states, counties, and countries that have adopted restrictions on BPA. In addition:

  • Some baby formula manufacturers are working to package their formula in BPA-free containers.
  • Six major manufacturers of baby bottles and pacifiers have agreed to phase out BPA.
  • Some major retailers will stop selling baby bottles that contain BPA.
  • At least one manufacturer will phase out production of polycarbonate water bottles.
  • Scientists continue to refine their studies of BPA to evaluate toxicity and exposure.

Content Source: Environmental Toxicology Program