Monday, October 06, 2008

BPA and you: alternatives to plastic

In case you have decided not to heed the warnings about bisphenol A, present in the linings of tin cans and polycarbonate (like the colored Nalgene #7) water bottles, this blurb might get you motivated (unfortunately I can't remember the source of this you might imagine I'm on a fair amount of newsletter lists and I sort of deleted this one by accident):

Ubiquitous chemical bisphenol A is linked to heart disease and diabetes, says research published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The Food and Drug Administration recently declared that BPA is safe; the new study's release was timed to coincide with a hearing in which the FDA defended that conclusion. For the new study, researchers studied urine samples from 1,455 American adults. BPA was detectable in 90 percent of the samples, though all were within currently recommended exposure levels. However, participants with the highest levels of BPA in their urine had nearly three times the chance of having heart disease than those with lowest exposure, and were 2.4 times more likely to have diabetes. Other studies have linked the chemical to reproductive and hormonal troubles. The new study is the largest to look at the effects of BPA in humans; the FDA relied heavily on industry-funded studies of lab animals. While everyone agrees that more research is needed, many consumers are already trying to avoid BPA by eschewing some plastic bottles, baby toys, and canned foods.

But what to use instead? I recommend cooking the things you might typically buy in cans (soups, beans, etc.) in bulk (like once a month), and then freezing them into "canned" sized portions using glass jars like those sold by the Ball company. You might not be a big cook, and might not use cans anyway, but for those of us cooking family-sized portions this tip will work. Also, switching to glass jars for drinking on the go isn't practical for most of us. A lot of people have switched to Sigg water bottles (including me), bur recently I found out that company won't say either way if BPA is in the lining of it's water bottles (what a bummer). I have heard positive things about Klean Kanteen, which is unlined. At home I recycled all of my plastic-ware from when the kids were really small in favor of little glass juice glasses, which are the perfect size for little hands. When dealing with plastics, I say it's best to exercise the precautionary principle and avoid using them for anything that will be ingested.

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