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Chemical in plastic baby bottles poses risks

18 Apr
Chemical in plastic baby bottles poses risks

Bottle_2NOW THEY TELL US
By Julie Deardorff

Three years ago, like millions of new mothers, I used shatterproof Avent polycarbonate baby bottles.

At the time, it never dawned on me that baby bottles, of all things, would leach a chemical called bisphenol A (BPA) into the breast milk. I never suspected that when my day care provider heated the bottle and accidentally melted the top, that even more BPA would be released.

And I never dreamed the federal government would find that exposure to this chemical poses a health risk, especially to fetuses, infants and children.

But that was the disturbing conclusion of a draft report released today by the National Toxicology Program, which said the ubiquitous chemical used to make plastic may be linked to breast cancer, prostate cancer and early puberty in girls.

There is "some concern for neural and behavioral effects in fetuses, infants and children at current human exposures," the NTP concluded.

It’s the first time the federal government has raised concerns about BPA, which is found in everything from shatterproof baby bottles, sports water bottles and dental sealants. BPA is also found in the linings of some cans of baby formula, so formula fed babies are at risk for double exposure.

So what am I supposed to do now?

Even the most renowned BPA researchers don’t know what to tell me. "Try not to worry," said Fred vom Saal, who has been sounding the alarm about the dangers of BPA for years.

That’s hardly comforting. The reality is that for my son, it’s too late; I can’t undo any potential damage. But if you’re an expectant mom or the parent of an infant, you do have some options, because retailers and manufacturers are beginning to respond to emerging science.

For starters, USE GLASS BABY BOTTLES or find brands labeled BPA-free. I used Evenflow glass bottles with my second son, even though people called me paranoid.

Secondly, shop at ENLIGHTENED RETAILERS. Canada’s largest outdoor goods retailer Mountain Equipment Co-op and Patagonia have already pulled food and drink containers containing the chemical from the shelves. Lululemon announced it won’t sell hard plastic water bottles containing BPA.

Cb_s08_fixedcaplime_751_2 And finally, CHECK PRODUCT LINES. CamelBak (left) has transitioned their complete line of re-usable water bottles to a new No. 7 plastic material that is 100 percent BPA-free. (No. 7 usually means polycarbonate). The change-over will be complete by the end of the month, according to a news release.

And Nalgene offers six BPA-free bottles, four of which have been in the Nalgene family of products for decades. Like CamelBak’s products, The Everyday bottle line is made from Eastman Tritan copolyester plastic and includes OTG ("On the Go"), the iconic 32-ounce Wide Mouth, and the Grip-N-Gulp sippy cup.

Read the New York Times article "Canada Likely to Label Plastic Ingredient "Toxic."

Here’s more on bisphenol A.

Read Gina Solomon’s blog, Switchboard. Solomon is a senior scientist with Natural Resources Defense Council.

There’s also an excellent article on plastics and BPA in the May issue of Discover by Jill Neimark, but I don’t have the link yet.

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Posted by on April 18, 2008 in Health and wellness

 

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