Glass, paper, tin and plastic. Nowadays we have a wide variety of containers which we can use to store our food or drinks. We tend to be so much more concerned about our food spoiling, that we fail to notice the dangers of using plastic containers.

BPA and BPS

We all may be familiar with BPA or bisphenol A which is used in the manufacturing of plastic and resins. We may have read on several water bottle labels that the said container is “BPA Free”, but BPA is not only found in plastic. It is also found in the lining of canned goods as well as water supply lines and can even be inhaled from dust. According to a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), out of 2517 urine samples of people six years of age and up 93% contained BPA. BPA has been linked to cause hormonal problems, neurological diseases, cardiovascular disease and increase the risk for cancer. A top problem arising from BPA is ovarian toxicity which leads to decreased fertility in women. Studies have as well shown that low-dose bisphenol-A (BPA) exposure has been linked to development of hypopadias due to down regulation of MMP11.

The fear does not stop there for despite there being a drive to rid containers of BPA, something BPA free is not as safe as it may sound because another chemical is present. Consumers have demanded for the removal of BPA so manufacturers have switched to another chemical called BPS or bisphenol-S. Research from the University of Texas Medical branch have found that one part per trillion of BPS can lead to cellular dysfunction. The possible consequences linked with this disruption includes the development of diabetes, obesity and cancer.

Nowhere to hide

Why are toxic chemicals like BPA or BPS present in our containers? Though as unsafe as these substances are, they remain in these containers because it is needed for the production process. We may have made BPA free containers and are now aiming to make containers BPS free as well but there will always be another bisphenol alternative to take its place.

Though it seems like there is nowhere to hide from the toxic arm of bisphenols, there are ways to lessen its exposure:

1. Use alternative containers- switch to glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers over plastic ones
2. Do not heat plastic- We know not to heat plastic as it will melt but despite the container being microwave safe, it is generally advised not to. BPA can leach into food and drinks if the plastic is heated. This goes as well for those who leave their plastic containers in their cars or leave their bottles out in the sun while on a run as BPA may be leaching into your coffee or power drink.
3. Buy fresh food over canned- It is generally healthier to buy fresh meat and vegetables over the canned variety. Canned goods are more convenient and have a longer shelf life; making it very sellable. These containers although are lined inside with bisphenol which should make you think twice about choosing convenience over health. It is best to cut back on using canned goods.
4. Familiarize yourself with recycle codes- We are thrifty beings and tend to reuse plastic. There are numbers at the bottom of our plastic containers which indicate the reusability, suitability for foodstuffs and whether they are BPA free or not. MIMS

Read more:
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Plastic water bottles in Singapore safe to use
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Sources:
* Qin X-Y, Kojima Y, Mizuno K, Ueoka K, Muroya K, Miyado M, et al. (2012) Identification of Novel Low-Dose Bisphenol A Targets in Human Foreskin Fibroblast Cells Derived from Hypospadias Patients. PLoS ONE 7(5): e36711. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036711
* https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/sya-bpa/