Parents and consumer groups have been sounding the alarm over the toxic effects of BPA plastics for decades now. The chorus grew even louder after a landmark 2003-2004 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 93 percent of those tested had BPA in their urine. The call to ban BPA from products soon caught the attention of manufacturers who scrambled to find a suitable alternative.

Regrettable substitutes

The problem is that these new BPA alternatives often show the same negative side effects as BPA plastics. A team of researchers at Washington State University were conducting a study on reproduction in mice affected by BPA when the control group started exhibiting some alarming signs as well.

Pixabay / Congerdesign

As part of the study, mice were placed in BPA-free plastic cages. One group of mice were given droppers filled with BPA, the control group wasn’t. But soon, the control group started exhibiting similar side effects. It turns out the cages were made from a BPA substitute, and were just as toxic. The results are not all that surprising since most, if not all, of the new products are only slightly different from BPA.

Breaking down BPA

So, just what is BPA and why is it so bad for us? Bisphenol A is a chemical used to make resins and plastics that has been around since the 1950s. Manufacturers soon realized the commercial potential and began using the compound in just about everything from water bottles, plastic cups, and canned foods to plastic containers. Little did people know that while convenient, these products were slowly poisoning us.

Unsplash / Jonathan Chng

BPA has been blamed for a number of serious health issues affecting our hormones, brain activity, and the reproductive process. Numerous studies have shown BPA and its substitutes to cause women to produce lower quality eggs while men have shown a lower sperm count. Even more alarming is that these conditions can be passed on to our children.

Living BPA-free

With BPA and a slew of alternatives flooding the market, what can you do to keep your family safe and truly live BPA-free.

Flickr / susana jessi

Health experts recommend avoiding all products with recycling numbers 3, 6 and 7, which are all made with BPA or a similar chemical. Try not to use canned foods. Unless it’s labeled otherwise, most cans are made with BPA. Finally, don’t put plastics in the microwave or dishwasher. Heat can break down the plastic, allowing for these toxic chemicals to make their way into your food. Following these simple rules will go a long way toward living a healthier, cleaner life.