Bisphenol-A, also known as BPA, is highly toxic in small doses, and found in plastics throughout our homes.

First synthesized in 1891, bisphenol-A came into use as a synthetic estrogen in the 1930s. Later, chemists discovered that, combined with other compounds, BPA yielded the clear, polycarbonate plastic we now find in our homes.

BPA is used as a plastic coating for children's teeth to prevent cavities, as a coating in metal cans to prevent the metal from contact with the food inside, as the plastic in food containers, refrigerator shelving, baby bottles, water bottles, returnable containers for juice, milk and water, micro-wave ovenware and eating utensils.

During the manufacturing process, not all the BPA gets locked into the plastic. That residual BPA can work itself free, especially when the plastic is heated -- in a microwave, dishwasher or even through the addition of hot coffee.

According to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Smart Plastics Guide, adverse effects from BPA exposure include:

• Early onset of puberty, and stimulation of mammary gland development in females

• Changes in gender-specific behavior

• Changes in hormones, including decreased testosterone

• Increased prostate size

• Decreased sperm production

• Altered immune function

• Behavioral effects including hyperactivity, increased aggressiveness, impaired learning and other changes in behavior

So how come BPA hasn't been banned BPA across the board?

Well, the FDA and the chemical industry claim that the levels of BPA we are exposed to are too low to present a risk.

However, where traditional toxicology asserts that higher doses cause greater harm, bisphenol A tests show that low doses can be the most toxic of all.

In one investigation a low dose of BPA produced a 70% higher growth rate of prostate cancer cells in lab animals than did higher doses (Wetherill et al. 2002).

In a separate study, lower doses of BPA resulted in higher rates of breast cell growth that can precede cancer (Markey et al. 2001).

The U.S. Government is finally taking some baby steps to recognizing the dangers.

In January of 2010, the FDA finally gave a little ground and conceded that the effects of BPA might be a cause for “some concern”.

Meanwhile, University of Missouri professor, Fred Vom Saal, recent stated on CBC News, "I and other colleagues of mine at an NIH (National Institutes of Health) meeting said, with a very high level of confidence, we think Bisphenol A is a threat to human health."

That’s quite a difference in positions between two official bodies.

Generally, the FDA and other government bodies are hampered by their desire to protect industry, not to mention the pressure they get from lobbyists for the chemical and plastics industries.

To many, it is outrageous that commercial gain is put ahead of the health of our children. But for now, that’s how it works.

If government is slow to react, the first move has to be made by the public.

Until the use of BPA is regulated in the U.S., in the same was it already is in Europe and Canada, it’s up to us to take steps to protect our families.

For the health of yourself and your family you need to identify sources of BPA in your home and take steps to replace those items with safe alternatives.

Further reading:

Bad plastics...

Safe plastics...

Phthalates...

Alternatives to plastics...

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