BPA-Free and Plant-Based Plastics More Dangerous Than We Thought

plastic is evil. BPA-free plastic still unsafe, pregnant women avoid plastic,

In my house, we only permit BPA-free toys, sippy cups, and other plastics while trying to minimize our use of plastic altogether. Doing so is supposed to spare us from hormone-disrupting chemicals found in  bisphenol-A. But these plastic items still aren’t safe (if by safe we mean products that don’t leach other hormone-disrupting chemicals). Research now indicates that nearly every plastic product (including BPA-free) is made up of chemicals that stimulate estrogenic activity (EA) in human cells.

Estrogen made by our bodies in the right quantities at the right time is a good thing. But chemicals with EA have been linked to a whole slew of frightening problems like increased rates of  asthma, obesity, premature puberty in girls, infertility, reproductive cancers, and a number of neurodevelopmental disorders.

To perform the study, University of Texas researchers purchased 455 widely available plastic products. Although most were labeled “BPA-free” it wasn’t possible to determine exactly what chemicals they contained. Apparently this is proprietary information closely guarded by industry. To determine if the products had estrogenic effects, researchers exposed extracted versions to solvents meant to mimic food and beverage items these plastics were likely to contain. Then, they exposed these extracts to a type of human breast cancer cell that’s highly receptive to estrogen. Cells that multiplied in the presence of plastic extracts indicated that those particular chemicals were estrogenic.

The results? Nearly every plastic product they tested leached EA chemicals. Some BPA-free products actually released more EA than other plastics. That included eco-friendly plastics made from plant products, which apparently released EA due to the additives used.

A more recent study by University of Calgary scientists indicates that bisphenol-S, found in many products with the “BPA-free” label, might actually be more harmful than BPA itself. Researchers exposed zebra fish, a good model to study human brain development, to bisphenol-S (an ingredient found in many products deemed “BPA-free”). The results showed abnormally timed growth of neurons in the embryos, the same growth surges found when embryos are exposed to BPA. The disruption of prenatal cellular activity appeared to result in hyperactive behavior. In fact, early abnormal growth of brain cells was specific to male hormones, perhaps indicating why more boys than girls are diagnosed with certain neurodevelopmental disorders.

Researcher Deborah Kurrasch was surprised by the results, especially since the dose used was “a very, very, very low dose, so I didn’t think using a dose this low could have any effect.” Another researcher in the study, Hamid Habibi, said “Finding the mechanism linking low doses of BPA to adverse brain development and hyperactivity is almost like finding a smoking gun.” They recommend pregnant women limit their exposure to products containing bisphenols and say this and other studies support removing bisphenols and structurally similar chemicals from consumer products.

Ninety percent of Americans show trace amounts of BPA in urine, breast milk, and umbilical cord blood. Why are potentially dangerous plastics used in toys, food packaging, and beverage cups (as well as in healthcare)? The  Food and Drug Administration considers compounds safe until proven otherwise.

Resources & Further Reading on This Topic

image CC by 2.0 from hottholler’s flickr photostream


7 thoughts on “BPA-Free and Plant-Based Plastics More Dangerous Than We Thought”

  1. The plastics industry and tons of other polluting toxic industries, promoting their harmful products, have long discredited, denied, or obfuscated the solid facts that threaten their bottom line.

    But the medical industry is no different because it is known to science for many decades that low dose prolonged estrogen exposure, such as from the birth control pill, hormonal replacement therapy, or medical xrays – they too have estrogenic activity (see Rolf Hefti’s ‘The Mammogram Myth’ – more on that at http://www.supplements-and-health.com/mammograms.html ) – cause cancer yet they continue to downplay, deny, or suppress this knowledge even today. Of course, because these factual data inculpate this massive business of having committed a crime of epic proportions – and the criminal act is ongoing.

    Unfortunately, because the medical busines has “educated” (=hoodwinked ) the public with a highly glorified fabricated picture of themselves, very few individuals have come to realize just how deeply corrupt and harmful this business truly is to the health of the public (see Ghislaine Lanctôt’s “The Medical Mafia,” Marcia Angell’s “The Truth about the Drug Companies” or Peter Gøtzsche’s “Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime”). And because most people will hang on to their illusionary idea about this for-profit business, they’re helping in the systematic denial and suppression of the real truth about this big corporate industry.

  2. “”The Food and Drug Administration considers compounds safe until proven otherwise.”””
    So why was Stevia kept off grocery store shelves for decades?
    Too much competition for the Sugar substitutes.

  3. Wonderful article to express the concerns of how unhealthy & ignorant this world has become towards our babies (and all humans). Recently, I have done so much research trying to find a glass (safe top) sippy cup for my 1 year old with no results. It’s as if they aren’t made which is so frustrating. If anyone knows of a glass sippy I’d love to hear where you found it!

    1. Marla,

      The only solution I have found for my toddlers sippy cups (that isn’t extravagantly expensive), is to use the evenflo glass baby bottles with Lifefactory sippy cup lids. You can always just buy lifefactory’s glass bottles too, but I think they’re more expensive. Let me know if you’ve found anything else that works well! I’m interested. 🙂

  4. Laura,

    We don’t like plastics either and love glass. We would love to send you a sample of our silicone sleeve that can be used with most bottles. We love that you are a naturalist and we love this too.

    Send us a message to see if you can be a brand ambassador for Glass Guardian.

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