We now know that there are many toxic chemicals, like BPA and phthalates, all around us and in us. We also know just how harmful to our health they can be.
Research has already shown a direct link to (to name just a few):
- reproductive cancers (breast, endometrial, testicular, prostate, ovarian)
- abnormalities in male reproductive organs (cryptorchidism and hypospadias)
- early puberty
- sex ratios (the number of live male births divided by the total number of births for a given period of time)
- and most recently atypical childhood social behaviors and specifically autism.
It seems like there are new studies being published all the time proving this. It can be so easy to throw up our hands with this realization and believe there is nothing we can do to prevent exposure. So then why bother to learn more and keep trying?
I know that I have jokingly said more than once that I know that the damage was already done (for me). Yes, I did my best to read labels for myself too, but my main focus has been on preventing exposure for my children because that was where I could make a real difference.
I have been proven wrong.
photo credit: flickr
A new study released by The Breast Cancer Fund and Silent Spring Institute found that when families avoided using any BPA-containing food packaging – canned foods and polycarbonate plastic – they reduced the amount of BPA in their bodies by 60% in three days. Three days!
That is something we can all do and see real results, and quickly. This is huge.
A few quick tips to reduce exposure to BPA and phthalates in food packaging:
- Avoid canned foods whenever possible, unless you know it is made BPA-free. Check out this guide.
- Cook at home using fresh foods.
- Use stainless steel and glass food storage containers. Consider bringing your own when dining out.
- Replace plastic in the kitchen when you can.
- Until then avoid microwaving plastic.
- Take care when washing plastic – top rack of dishwasher.
- Know your plastics – #2, #4, #5 are considered safer than others.
- Avoid the PVC-based commercial plastic food wrap.
- When you are ready to do more, do more.
The study also looked at several phthalates, three of which are also found in the same food packaging as BPA. Study participants saw a reduction of 50% of those three phthalates in their bodies by avoiding the suspect canned foods and plastic. The other phthalates measured saw no real difference, but it gives me hope that if we read our ingredient lists faithfully and do our best to avoid these chemicals that we can see reductions in levels of these as well.
When I see the damage that BPA and phthalates, both endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs), can do to our children, to ourselves, and I can see small steps that I can take to reduce the risk of these adverse health effects, I have to try my best to take them.
What about you?
Do you think manufacturers will begin to voluntarily reformulate packaging to eliminate BPA and phthalates? Will you trust a label, like the current BPA-free label, that has no regulations behind it? Or should there be action taken at the federal level to ensure chemical safety for all Americans?
That’s an amazing number isn’t it? I always encourage people to make small changes in their lives, because even the smallest change can make a big impact on overall health. As for manufacturers? They only make changes when pressure is applied to them, and even then they usually don’t go the distance for consumers.
It really is amazing. I guess that I have always thought of people making changes as important, but even more so important for the small people of the world. I suppose that is still potentially true, but I can see that everyone can still make a difference to their health by making these changes themselves. That is amazing!
We are struggling here in Oregon to pass a BPA-Free Baby Bill that only targets baby products and WIC infant formula cans. It doesn’t even touch canned foods, receipts, adult water bottles, etc. and it is not important enough for our legislators to enact because “the market will solve the problem itself.” I don’t buy it and neither should anyone else. In my opinion. ;)
It seems like it’s always left up to the companies and corporations to police themselves. We all know that isn’t working though. I do see more and more people taking an interest in sustainability and health concerns. That’s a good thing, but there is so much work that needs to be done – it feels quite daunting at times, but it’s far too important to just throw our hands up and vow to let someone else worry about it. If we don’t take action, who will?
Here in California we’re trying to get a ballot initiative campaign going to get GMOs labeled. Crazy right? I mean that’s going head to head with Monsanto and their endless cash flow and lobbying power.
Oh this is just an awesome post!! So glad that you are making people aware of this. I am really not sure what to believe on the labels. There is so much deception sometimes.
Thanks, Alicia. Awareness is certainly something I strive for in my own life, and it is also something I have begun to realize just how difficult it is to have when these problems seem insurmountable. I think that is why I enjoyed this news so much – it is positive! It is something we can do!
I think we will eventually have to have some way to know that we can trust what we read on the labels. Time will only tell what form that might take, but third-party certification is one way.
I like to hope that one day BPA will be a thing of the past. With Canada and some US states banning it for use in baby products and even Australia instigating a voluntary phase out, I believe the writing is on the wall for this chemical. The next challenge is to convince food producers to stop lining tinned food with BPA – we can live in hope!
Hope is a good thing.
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