Understanding that the purity of our tap water is not always what we desire, most of us turn to hauling around bottled water. The problem is that when you are drinking from plastic water bottles, you may actually be trading one toxin in for another. BPA is present in most of the bottled water we drink. A by-product of the plastic container which holds it, it is imperative that you understand what it is, how it can affect your health and how to avoid ingesting it.
Although most of us have no idea what BPA is, there have been enough warnings in the medical community for us to be concerned. If you want to ensure that you are doing all you can to keep it out of contact, below are the questions that are most commonly asked about this harmful chemical by-product.
What is BPA?
BPA is short for Bisphenol A. It is a by-product which is found in all petroleum based products. Being a known carcinogen, it is contained in most of the hard plastics that we use on a daily basis. It is not uncommon for it to be found in the bottled water that we consume.
The thing that makes it so harmful to your health is that it works in the body by being a hormone disrupter. It has the capability to mimic the body’s product of natural estrogen and can alter the hormonal balance.
Does it affect me personally?
Many people make the assumption that they are not personally affected by BPA. According to the Center for Disease Control, it was reported that as many as 93% of Americans are found to excrete trace amounts of BPA in their urine. A hugely concerning article by Time Magazine in 2008 chronicled its far reaching distribution in our environment. For some reason women appear to be affected more. When women were surveyed the percentage rose to an astounding 96%.
Most startling is that it is estimated that each year over 6 billion pounds of BPA are produced. That translates into an entire pound per person for the entire population of the earth yearly.
So what…I haven’t had a problem so far
Even if you have not noticed any ill effects of consumption to date, it has been scientifically shown that it has the potential to cause much concern in long term exposure and at specific levels. Those health consequences include:
• Hormone disruption (specifically in pregnant women and children)
• Increase risk of heart disease
• Thyroid issues
• Brain development and neurological issues seen in laboratory exposure on animals
• Reproductive issues
• Increased risk for prostate and breast cancers
• Decreased efficacy of chemotherapy for cancer patients
So what is being done to take it from our environment?
Canada, leading the charge, has declared it toxic to the environment and to human health.
California has passed the Toxin-Free Infants and Toddlers Act in 2011 that has banned the use of it in bottles and cups that are designed for infants.
Sunoco, a major gasoline producer, has refused to sell the by-product to any company who has ties to the production of products that go toward children.
The EPA is still refusing the take the health concerns seriously. They have to date done nothing to limit the public’s exposure to it.
What can I do personally?
Although BPAs are found everywhere, so total avoidance is near impossible, there are things you can do to decrease the likelihood that you will come in contact with it.
The best thing to do is to stay away from both 5 and 2.5 gallon containers used for water. If you have water that is delivered to your home, it is best to cancel your subscription as they are huge offenders of the use of BPA. Because the containers that are being delivered are often exposed to sunlight and heat, the bottle permeate the chemical into the water you are ingesting.
Rid the habit of buying single bottles of water. Worst yet, if you do purchase bottled water, don’t ever let it sit in your car on a warm day. That gives the bottles time to leak BPA into the water. That is why it normally doesn’t taste the same after a day or two. The problem is that you have no idea how it was transported prior to you purchasing it. Normally plastic water bottles sit on trucks which are not air-conditioned for days at a time.
The best suggestion?
Only purchase plastic containers which carry the BPA insignia. There are many companies who are guaranteeing the absence of the chemical from their products. Always choose to buy those which are BPA free.