Plastics – they are everywhere. You’re surrounded by them. They are truly a modern material that makes modern life as we know it possible. But there’s a problem. Bisphenol A more commonly known as BPA, an additive used in plastics to make them more durable, has been linked to a whole host of health problems including obesity, heart disease, infertility, cancers, asthma and even nerve problems.
The FDA made headlines by banning the substance for use in baby’s bottles in 2012 and several manufacturers followed suit and stopped using BPA in several products like water bottles. Unfortunately for us, BPA has largely been replaced with BPS, another chemical that closely mimics the hormone estrogen, and emerging studies are showing that it might be just as harmful to our health. Because these chemicals structurally resemble estrogen they function in many of the same ways, having large effects on your health. Any type of chemical or substance that is known to drastically alter your hormones is known collectively as an endocrine disruptor.
Scientists from the University of Calgary are the first to show that BPS causes abnormal growth surges of neurons in an animal embryo. Even more concerning. the scientists found that the effects were larger with BPS compared to the already banned BPA. And it’s not just water bottles, bowls, and drinking glasses that contain these additives. The thermal paper used for the receipts also contains BPS, and that stuff actually gets into your blood just by handling it.
Using hand sanitizer increases the rate of absorption, too. And it’s not just a little either. When subjects’ blood was tested after handling the receipt paper it was found that some had concentrations 10 times higher than before touching the paper and at levels that have been associated with a significant increase in the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes in previous studies.
What To Do About It
While it’s basically impossible at this point to avoid exposure to man-made chemicals that will show up in measurable amounts in your blood, fat or urine it is possible to minimize your exposure. When talking about BPA, BPS and other endocrine disruptors that are present in plastics the solution is a simple, if not easy one: avoid plastics.
- Choose a stainless steel water bottle over plastic
- Avoid bottled water and use filtered tap when possible
- Store foods in non-leaching materials like ceramic, stainless steel, glass or silicone
- Minimize your contact with paper receipts and do not use hand sanitizer while handling them
- Never heat foods in plastic containers
- Avoid canned foods – they are lined with plastic that usually contains BPA
Do you have any experiences with plastics negatively influencing your health or wellness? How about some tips for avoiding unnecessary exposure to plastics? Leave it in the comments.