BPA- Free and Its Not So Great Replacement

Back in 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration conveyed its concerns “about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children.” Since the 1960s, Bisphenol A (BPA) has been used in hard plastic and metal-based food and beverage containers. In 2008 and 2009, “toxic baby bottles” were all over the news as BPA mimics sex and thyroid hormones and children and infants may be the most vulnerable to these effects.

Baby bottles and cups containing endocrine-disrupting BPA were the first in the FDA’s crosshairs. Soon baby formula cans, reusable water bottles, and canned goods with linings began to bear the “BPA-Free” mark.

However, the replacement of BPA to create clear, hard plastic may not be much better. The standard replacement is Bisphenol S, or BPS. Recently, UCLA studied the effects of BPA and BPS using a zebrafish model. The results were not reassuring. Nancy Wayne, a reproductive endocrinologist and a professor of physiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, concluded that,

Exposure to low levels of BPA had a significant impact on the embryos’ development of brain cells that control reproduction, and the genes that control reproduction later in life. We saw many of these same effects with BPS found in BPA-free products. BPS is not harmless.

Though “BPA-Free” is clearly an advertising asset, there is still a good notion that consumers can have some knowledge of what the item contains.

The trajectory of BPA is similar to popular nail polish formulas. Many nail polish brands have boasted “3 Free” (no Dibutyl Phthalate, Toluene, and Formaldehyde) and “5 Free” (no Dibutyl Phthalate, Toluene, Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, and Camphor) formulas in recent years. However, these cosmetics do not offer any information regarding their ingredient substitution. Last fall, the Environmental Working Group revealed that these nail polish still contain endocrine disrupters even though they eliminated other endocrine disrupters from their ingredients.

If items are going to advertise being X-free, I’d like to know the replacement.

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