Plastic is ubiquitous and its usage doesn’t seem to dwindle in today's modern world. Even though few NGOs and social activists are relentlessly trying to create awareness about the harmful effects of plastics, we really are not able to stop using them. It, indeed, has become a part of our day-to-day life. It is now a well-known truth that plastics are not only harmful to the environment but, is harmful to humans as well. This is mainly due to the fact that plastics contain a chemical known as BPA. The side effects of this dangerous three-letter word have never been fully brought to limelight. Many of you may be still wondering what is BPA? So let us see what is BPA before we delve into "Why BPA/BPS is bad for you?".
What is BPA?
BPA is an abbreviation for Bisphenol A, a synthetic chemical compound. BPA was first invented by a Russian scientist in 1891 but the usage of BPA was predominant only after the late 1940s. BPA is actually a key ingredient used in the production of a certain variant of plastic called, Polycarbonate epoxy resin. The reason for its popularity was that the polycarbonate, made from BPA was strong and shatterproof.
BPA is widely used in the production of plastics and many commercial products. It is used in a wide range of consumer products such as water bottles, food storage containers, medical devices, CDs and baby bottles. Epoxy resin is found in the coating inside of almost all food and beverage cans.
Commercial products that contain BPA
Almost all plastics containers
Feminine Hygiene products
CDs and DVDs
Nowadays, many products in the market are being sold as "BPA-free plastics". It should be noted that those products are manufactured by replacing BPA with bisphenol-S (BPS) or bisphenol-F (BPF). And BPS/BPF is no different than BPA as it has similar harmful effects on the cell functions as BPA.
Why BPA is bad? How does it affect?
BPA is scientifically proven to be harmful in more than one way. For starters, the cause of infertility, childhood asthma, Alzheimer, and much more are linked with BPA. In the worst-case scenario, it could cause cancer and cardiovascular diseases. All these disorders are caused due to the fact that BPA is soluble. This means that when the BPA containing plastics are heated, the bonds of BPA with the plastics will be broken easily. Eventually, the BPA will leak and mix with hot beverages or food.
BPA mimics the function and structure of estrogen. Due to this, BPA will bind onto the estrogen receptors and deteriorate the bodily functions such as growth, cell function, energy levels, reproduction and foetal development. To make things worse, it may also disrupt the hormone receptors and alter their functions.
- A recent study involving people, who avoided packaged and processed foods for three days, concluded that BPA levels are decreased by 66% in the urine of these participants.
- Another study was conducted on two groups of people, the first group was made to eat one serving of fresh soup and the other was made to eat canned soup for five days. At the end of the study, it was found that BPA levels in the urine were 1221% higher for those who had canned soup.
- In 2013, a study carried out at the University of Texas Medical Branch concluded that the consumption of BPS as low as one part per trillion can still disrupt the cell functions. This could lead to major metabolic disorders such as obesity, diabetes, asthma, birth defects, and cancer.
- WHO consolidated that the BPA levels are eight times lower for breastfed babies when compared with babies fed with the BPA containing bottles.