Glass or Plastic? Especially if it is your baby’s bottle

Research suggests that most clear hard plastic (your baby’s bottle, the bottles in the refrigerator, the sippers, the food jars on the kitchen shelf) contain a chemical called bisphenol A (BPA), which is at the minimum toxic, but perhaps even carcinogenic (can cause some forms of cancer).

The Telegraph of UK explains what BPA is:

BPA is a synthetic version of oestrogen, the female sex hormone, and experts have suggested for more than a decade that chemicals in the environment and in consumer products may be contributing to male and female diseases, such as prostate and breast cancer.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports

Independent tests done for The Chronicle and reported in November found bisphenol A, a chemical that mimics estrogen, in a baby bottle and several toys. Bisphenol A is also found in the lining of food cans, some anti-cavity sealants for teeth, and electronics.

Then, in late February, Environment California, an advocacy group, released a report titled “Toxic Baby Bottles” that drew intense national media coverage.

When heated, five of the most popular brands of polycarbonate — the clear, shatterproof plastic used in baby bottles — leached bisphenol A at levels that have been found to cause harm in laboratory animals, Environment California found.

To be fair, the research is not conclusive and there is opposition to this view. The question to ask is ‘should we keep using plastic bottles to feed our babies, while we wait for the researchers to prove conclusively that it can cause cancer?’ What is the cost of shifting to glass baby bottles?

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2 comments

  • Ajay Jaiman November 27, 2007   Reply →

    Came across this at Our Stolen Future:
    “…should regulators wait until epidemiological proof of human harm, or act now to reduce exposures?… Sufficient evidence is now available on bisphenol A to make highly plausible a series of human effects. The burden of proof should be reversed. Rather than waiting for scientific certainty of harm, steps to reduce human exposures should begin now, only to be curtailed if further research shows definitively that the mounting evidence has exaggerated bisphenol A’s potential effects.”

  • Ajay Jaiman November 27, 2007   Reply →

    National Geographic Society’s Green Guide says:

    Bisphenol-A (BPA) “…has come under increasing scrutiny, given studies showing that the substance mimics the hormone estrogen, meaning that it can duplicate, block or exaggerate hormonal responses. Tests in lab animals have found that it alters reproductive organs and functions.

    Recent research suggests that BPA’s effects extend beyond the reproductive system. A growing number of scientists are concluding, from animal tests, that exposure to BPA in the womb raises the risk of certain cancers, hampers fertility and could contribute to childhood behavioral problems such as hyperactivity. A January 2006 Environmental Health Perspectives study on mice indicated that BPA alters the function of mouse pancreatic cells, which produce insulin, suggesting that the chemical may enhance the risk of developing Type II diabetes.

    Most industry-funded studies performed on BPA conclude that the chemical levels found in food and beverages stored in polycarbonate containers have no effect on human health. But Frederick vom Saal, a BPA researcher at University of Missouri-Columbia, says that levels as little as 0.1 to 10 parts per billion (ppb) of BPA are “orders of magnitude” above what can affect humans, yet babies may be exposed to much higher levels. A 1999 study of polycarbonate baby bottles published in the Japanese Journal of Health Sciences found that new bottles, washed gently before using, leached 3.5 ppb of BPA into water, while extremely worn and scratched bottles leached levels of BPA as high as 28 ppb. Another 1999 Consumer Reports analysis found that BPA migrated from polycarbonate baby bottles into simulated formula when the formula was boiled inside the bottle for 20-30 minutes. And several scientific studies have reported that bisphenol-A can leach from plastic when heated, exposed to acidic solutions or after prolonged use. And baby bottles aren’t the only place BPA is found, a 2007 survey done by the Environmental Working Group found the chemical in formula as well.”

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