Many mothers are familiar with BPA, or Bisphenol A, because their infants and toddlers had come into direct contact with this leaching molecule from their baby bottles, sippy cups and plastic teething rings. Or maybe the young ones gnawed on compact discs, cell phones, sunglasses and food storage containers. BPA helps form the hard, clear plastic called polycarbonate, along with the epoxy resins used in boats, cars, planes and linings in food cans. Mariah Blake’s article in Mother Jones reported that BPA had been used over fifty years in these products until independent scientists took a closer look:
“Scientists have tied BPA to ailments including asthma, cancer, infertility, low sperm count, genital deformity, heart disease, liver problems, and ADHD. ‘Pick a disease, literally pick a disease,’ says Frederick vom Saal, a biology professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia who studies BPA.”
Studies on the deleterious effects of the estrogen mimicking properties of BPA were downplayed by the plastics industry, but it was difficult to ignore zoologist Theo Colborn Ph.D. In 1996, she, with two other scientists, produced Our Stolen Future, detailing the effect that synthetic hormones have on populations in the wild.
But it wasn’t until 2012 that the FDA banned the use of BPA in those beloved sippy cup and bottles, used by millions of mothers around the world. So how does the plastics industry make that teething ring BPA free? By using another plastic alternative called BPS. So all is well, yes? Absolutely not, according to a report by Justin Gardner, who details the results of a new study by UCLA researcher Nancy Wayne:
The study, published in the journal Endocrinology, was ‘the first to examine the effects of BPA and BPS on key brain cells and genes that control the growth and function of organs involved in reproduction.’ In controlled experiments on zebrafish, both chemicals sped up embryonic development, which led to the fish equivalent of premature birth. The effect was observed even at low levels of BPA or BPS equivalent to polluted river water.