If you’ve ever bought a bottle of water at a gas station or a can of soup at the grocery store, chances are you’ve been exposed to Bisphenol-A, commonly known as BPA. BPA is an industrial chemical used to make polycarbonate plastic, a hard, clear plastic used in water bottles, Tupperware, bike helmets, medical devices, circuit boards, smart phones, protective googles, and a wide variety of other plastic products, including police and military equipment. BPA is a stiffening agent used to strengthen plastic, so it’s able to support more weight using less material. It’s also in the epoxy resins that are used coat the inside of bottle tops, metal pipes, and food and beverage cans, in order to prevent food and water from coming into direct contact with metal. BPA was first introduced in the late 1960’s and is extremely widespread. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found BPA in 95 percent of adults and 93 percent of the children they surveyed. BPA has also been named a significant health threat by doctors and medical researchers. BPA is an endocrine disruptor that interferes with your body’s ability to regulate hormone levels and increases your risk of developing a number of different illnesses, including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
BPA & the US Endocrine Society
The largest medical group to come out against BPA was the American Endocrine Society, a group of doctors, researchers, and scientists who specialize in the endocrine system, a collection of glands that produce hormones regulating your body’s growth, development, metabolism, tissue function, reproduction, and mood. The endocrine system affects every one of your major organs and plays a major role in healthy growth and development. In 2009, they published a comprehensive study listing the threats to human health posed by BPA and other endocrine disruptors. BPA and similar chemicals were linked to breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, and reproductive problems in men and women. Subsequent studies by medical professionals at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Peninsula Medical School, the University of Exeter, the University of Plymouth and the University of Iowa, and Yale have confirmed or expanded upon their findings.
Risk to the Reproductive System
The hormones governing the human reproductive system are the ovaries (in women) and testicles (in men), both part of the endocrine system. They rely on a coordinated series of biological processes, which, if altered by chemicals like BPA, can have devastating consequences to a person’s fertility.
|Reproductive Health Problems Caused by BPA|
|Polyscystic Ovarian Syndrome||Caused by enlarged ovaries, which prevent women from releasing eggs|
|Premature Ovarian Failure||Causes ovaries to shut down and stop releasing eggs or producing estrogen|
|Female Reproductive Tract Anomalies||Increases chance of miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies (embryo plants outside the uterus), and premature deliveries|
|Male Infertility||Caused by a decrease in the quality of sperm|
In addition, an experiment conducted in 2013 and published in the medical journal Human Reproduction, discovered that exposing women’s eggs to BPA caused a large percentage of them to degenerate or fail to mature. A large number of them also activated spontaneously, a rare phenomenon where an unfertilized eggs behave as if they’ve been fertilized.
Risk of Breast & Prostate Cancer
BPA is a ubiquitous xenoestrogen, which means it mimics the effects estrogen has on the body. The amount of estrogen a woman is exposed to throughout her life is one of the biggest predictors of breast cancer. Early exposure can alter the development of breast tissue and increase the likelihood of imbalances and mutations, which can lead to cancer later in life. BPA also attaches itself to estrogen-binding proteins called fetoproteins, which prevents the mother’s estrogen from entering the fetus’s bloodstream. BPA prevents these proteins from operating like normal and increases a children’s’ exposure to estrogen in utero. In 2010, researchers at Yale found that pregnant mice fed BPA produced higher levels of EZH2, a protein that controls gene expression and women with high levels of HZH2 are more likely to develop breast cancer.
The Endocrine Society also found that BPA makes men’s prostate glands more susceptible to hormonal carcinogenesis (tumors). It also activates mutant androgen receptors, which control the development of male sexual characteristics, and causes cellular proliferation and unscheduled cell cycle progression in these mutated cells.
Risk of Diabetes
Experiments with animals have shown that BPA temporarily increases the amount of insulin produced by the pancreas, leading to a condition known as hyperinsulinemia. Animals exposed to BPA for long periods of time eventually developed chronically high insulin levels. It also decreased their production of adiponectin, a hormone that increases insulin sensitivity, which meant it was harder for their bodies to remove the excess insulin they were producing. These two conditions eventually led to greater insulin resistance, which is what causes type II diabetes in humans. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association confirmed the association. They found that the people with the highest BPA levels were more than twice as likely to have diabetes as the people with the lowest BPA levels.
Risk of Heart Disease
The Endocrine Society claimed that ingesting BPA increases your risk of metabolic syndrome. Symptoms include high blood pressure, excess body fat, and abnormally increased cholesterol, all of which makes it more likely you will suffer a stroke or develop heart disease.
Risk of Memory Loss & Depression
In 2008, a study conducted by Yale and the Ontario Veterinary College found that BPA stopped primates from forming synaptic connections in their brains, specifically the hippocampus,(which controls memory, and the prefrontal cortex, which controls personality and decision making. Their findings suggest that ingesting BPA hampers a person’s ability to form new memories and increases their risk of developing clinical depression.
Risk to Children
Children aren’t as good at expelling foreign substances from their bodies as adults, so it’s no surprise that children have a much higher concentration of BPA in their bodies than adults do. Because BPA was a common ingredient on baby bottles, babies that were bottle fed had an even higher level of BPA than children and toddlers. Babies that were breastfed had much lower levels.
How BPA Gets Into Your Food & Drink
BPA gets into your food and drink through a process called “leaching” or “migration.” Those are industry terms for when small pieces of plastic break off from the sides of plastic containers and get mixed in with the food and drink they’re storing. These plastic particles are too small to be dangerous. You’ve probably ingested millions of them during your life without any ill-effects. It’s the chemicals inside the plastic that cause problems. They get broken down and absorbed in your small intestine, which is how it enters your bloodstream and affects your endocrine glands. Heating food in plastic containers increases the rate of “migration.” Fatty, salty, or acidic food stored in plastic have higher migration rates as well.
How to Avoid BPA
If you’re worried about the amount of BPA in your diet, there are a few things you can do to cut down on the amount of it you take in.
- Stop eating canned food. Eat fresh fruits & vegetables instead. Buy soups and sauces that come in glass jars rather than metal tins.
- Don’t use plastic containers. Store your food in bowls and containers made from glass, ceramics, or stainless steel.
- Don’t heat up plastic containers in the microwave. Put it on a plate or in a ceramic bowl before you put it in the microwave.
- Avoid plastic utensils.
- Don’t use automatic coffee makers. The plastic tubing often contains BPA. Instead, brew coffee in a French press or a ceramic drip.
- Don’t use paper cups. Paper cups often come with a plastic lining that contains BPA. Only drink from glasses or ceramic mugs.
- Buy BPA-free plastic. The growing public awareness of the dangers of BPA have caused many companies to stop using BPA in their products. It hasn’t been used in baby bottles and sippy cups since 2012, and it’s no longer used as a liner in baby formula. Tupperware has stopped using BPA, as have several major food companies. Most water bottles and water dispensers are also BPA-free. There is no central, online list of companies that have stopped using BPA, though you can find partial lists specific to certain industries that you can use to determine whether your products are safe or not.
NewAir Water Dispensers – Safe, Healthy, & BPA-Free
As part of our commitment to our customers, none of the plastic in NewAir water dispensers (the WAT20W, WAT30B, and WAT40) contains any traces of BPA – not the piping, the casing, or the nozzles. The accessories for our water dispensers, the WAT10W Water Bottle and the WAT10-FIL, are BPA-free as well. They’re made with ABS and polypropene plastic, thermoplastic polymers that are just as strong. This allows them to provide hot and cold water to your home kitchen without any risk to you and your family.