Bisphenol-A: Another Compelling Reason to Stop Using Plastics
Canada, our progressive neighbor to the north, has stepped forward to make the right decision again. On April 18th 2008, Canada became the first country to ban Bisphenol-A (BPA) from baby bottles. The ban comes after repeated evidence that this chemical leeches out of the plastic and contaminates the liquids in the bottle. The evidence further suggests that BPA, which emulates the estrogen hormone, can cause problems with brain and physical development in children, and may cause cancer in adults. While the studies are not conclusive, they were obviously compelling enough to cause the Canadian Government to step in and make this decision.
To read more about Canada's ban on BPA, read this Washington Post Article.
BPA is used mainly to produce plastics that are clear and quite hard. These plastics are typically used in baby bottles as well as in other types of water bottles. These bottles have the number 7 recycling symbol on them. The number 7 represents "all other plastics" and are not typically recycled in smaller communities. BPA is not used in the production of the more common plastics with the 1,2 or 5 recycling numbers.
At this time, many of the companies that are producing plastic bottles with BPA are reformulating the plastic without BPA. This is great news, because it is getting easier to find BPA-free bottles. Here are some examples of BPA-free bottles:
Born Free BPA-free Plastic Baby Bottles
Tree Frog BPA-free Reusable Water Bottle
Camelback BPA-free Better Water Bottle
In addition to this information on the danger of some plastics, the National Geographic program, Strange Days on Planet Earth, has presented new dangers on the accummulation of plastics in our environment. The episode, "Dirty Secrets" recently played on our Public Television. See this link for a preview: Strange Days on Planet Earth, Wisconsin Public Television.
We know that most plastics simply do not go away. Small, fragile plastics slowly break into smaller and smaller pieces, but most large plastics will take centuries to break apart. This time of year, after the snow has melted, we see hundreds of plastic soda and water containers in the ditches. The rains come and wash these plastic bottles down to the streams, lakes, rivers, and eventually oceans of the world.
National Geographic's program shows the devastating impact these plastics are having on our environment and the animals that live in it. They tell us of a strange phenomenon where shoreline birds are picking up small brightly colored pieces of plastic such as cigarette lighters and bottled-water caps and feeding these items to their young. Eventually, the infant birds starve to death because they can never expell the bits of plastic and there is not enough room left for nutritional food.
This additional concern leaves us all wondering if we can continue to consciously allow ourselves to disregard the effect of disposable plastics. But, we have too easily been lulled into the convenience and everyday-ness of plastics in our lives.
A real conscious choice is to use plastics reponsibly or eliminate them altogether. If you are buying bottled water, re-use the bottle a few times before getting rid of it. When it comes time to get rid of it, be certain to recycle the bottle. If you have a reusable water bottle and you are not sure if it is BPA-free, replace it - again, making certain that you recycle the old bottle.
Better still, stop using plastics altogher. Glass is still a safe alternative, but it breaks quite easily and the cap or lid may be coated with a thin later of plastic containing, you guessed it, BPA. The next best option to glass is stainless steel. Drinking containers are available from Klean Kanteen. These stainless steel containers will last a long time and will not introduce any chemicals into your beverage, your body, or the environment.
Changing to BPA-free plastic bottles or stainless steel is the reponsible thing to do. It ensures better health for everyone and every thing on our precious little planet.
Thank you for reading,
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