Reports over the past several years have many parents wondering just which bottles are safe for their babies — and even their older children. The main reason is because of a chemical called Bisphenol A – or BHA. While BHA isn’t used in baby bottles anymore, there are lots of people who still have these bottles around. Also, it may still be found in other plastic products.
Bisphenol A is used in the production of epoxy resins and polycarbonate plastics (many of them used for baby bottles and sports bottles) and is a hormone-disrupting chemical considered to be potentially harmful to human health and the environment. Depending on whom you talk to, BPA is either perfectly safe or a dangerous health risk. The plastics industry says it is harmless, but a growing number of scientists are concluding, from some 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. However, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that human exposure to BHA is very low and strongly supports the conclusion that exposure to BHA poses no known risk to human health.
What to believe?
I’m not here to make that conclusion for you, but what I will do is provide information and alternatives so you can make your own decisions.
What are Polycarbonates?
Polycarbonates are used in thousands of consumer products such as reusable food containers, lifesaving medical devices and sport safety equipment. Manufacturers of such products, including baby bottles use polycarbonate because it prevents cracking, shattering and other hazards that can lead to injuries.
Bisphenol A is now deeply imbedded in the products of modern consumer society because not only it is used in the manufacture of polycarbonates, epoxy resins and other plastics, including polysulfone, alkylphenolic, polyalylate, polyester-styrene, and certain polyester resins — it is also used as an inert ingredient in pesticides (although in the US this has apparently been halted), as a fungicide, antioxidant, flame retardant, rubber chemical, and polyvinyl chloride stabilizer.
Who is exposed to Bisphenol A?
Everyone! Bisphenol A is found in many everyday products including food cans, plastic water containers and baby bottles. A study in the US found that 95% of people tested had been exposed to BPA.
Why is it a concern?
Bisphenol A is a hormone disruptor. Studies have linked low-dose BPA exposure with such effects as: permanent changes to genital tract; increase prostate weight; decline in testosterone; breast cells predisposed to cancer; prostate cells more sensitive to hormones and cancer; and hyperactivity.
The key concern for parents is whether BPA can get into their child’s food through leaching from polycarbonate bottles and containers.
What are hormone disruptors?
Hormone or endocrine disruptors are substances that can interfere with the normal functioning of the hormone system of both people and wildlife in a number of ways to produce a wide range of adverse effects including reproductive, developmental and behavioural problems.
Who is most at risk?
Fetuses, infants and children around puberty. Fetuses are especially sensitive groups as their immature detoxification systems make them more vulnerable and they are at a delicate stage of development.
How can you tell the difference between plastics with BHA ans those without?
If you decide to stay away from baby bottles with BHA, you need to know how to tell which ones have this chemical and which ones don’t. The easiest way to tell is to look for the triangular recycling imprint on the bottles. Polycarbonate plastic food and beverage containers that contain BPA will be labeled with the recycling symbol #7. However, not all recycling symbol #7 containers will be made with BPA.
What are the alternatives?
#5 Plastic baby bottles are non-toxic, recyclable and do not leach any harmful chemicals into your baby’s food. One example of a #5 plastic bottle is the Medela baby bottle.
Another alternative is glass or stainless steel bottles.