For the last few years, we have heard that we should avoid plastic water bottles due to industrial chemicals, namely phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA), that leak off the plastic and into our food or water, and then into our bodies. A new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives showed that we do not have to stay “contaminated.” Families that participated in the study made these simple changes: they stored food in glass or stainless steel containers and they discontinued preparing packaged foods. In just three days, there was a 60 percent reduction of BPA in their urine.
Research has found that these industrial chemicals behave in a manner similar to hormones found naturally in the human body. As a result, researchers have linked numerous health problems associated with both phthalates and BPA. Children and infants are most vulnerable since they do not process and rid these chemicals as efficiently as adults.
Phthalates, found in flexible plastics like plastic wrap, food storage containers, and shampoo bottles, can be absorbed by an expectant or lactating mother, or directly ingested by a baby from a sippy cup. The health problems for infants include changes in the male reproductive organs and hormones and allergies, including eczema. BPA is part of hard plastics and is often used to line the inside of our canned foods, including baby formula. This one is linked to behavioral developmental issues in children, including hyperactivity and aggression.
Frederick Vom Saal, a researcher of industrial chemicals, including BPA, acknowledged that 90 percent of Americans have this chemical stored in their bodies. Phillip Landrigan, the pediatrician who connected the dots between lead poisoning in children and paint, remains concerned that humans are most vulnerable to these chemicals while still in the womb.
The Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units acknowledged that the research is ongoing, and much of what we know about these chemicals and their adverse effects comes from animal studies. The public, according to PEHSU, should focus on ways to avoid these plastics. Heating and storing your food in these plastics are a no-go.