By now, many people worldwide know a little about BPA and its potential hazards and also that many food cans and plastic bottles might contain BPA. But this article is aimed at giving you just that crucial insight into what BPA is all about, why it is so dreaded and banned and why food cans are lined with BPA.
Bisphenol-A also known as BPA is an organic compound used in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. This compound was synthesized by the Russian chemist A.P. Dianin by the condensation of acetone with two equivalents of phenol catalyzed by a strong acid. However, commercially BPA is produced with both condensation as well as distillation. Its multi-million ton production worldwide shows just how important this compound can be. But its estrogenic properties came into picture as early as in the 1930 and gradually people started avoiding products containing BPA. It is also banned in baby feeding bottles. BPA is industrially used as a plasticizer as well as in packaging applications which is why there is a great deal of concern whether food cans available across markets contain BPA or not.
BPA is used in the plastic lining of canned foods and polycarbonate plastic items. It is the main ingredient used in metal cans and beverages in which food has to be protected from getting in contact with the metal can itself. In that, a majority of canned foods, canned beverages, and foods sold in plastic packs, animal foods packed in plastic including canned infant formula are all containing measurable levels of BPA. However how much is safe has been a variable owing to changing scientific studies. Not just this, packaged ready to eat foods are also said to contain BPA. Water pipes are also coated with epoxy resin which contains BPA. It is also used in foundry castings. Not just this, BPA is also used as a fungicide and is a preferred color developer in carbonless copy paper and thermal paper. The reason why BPA has become such a buzz word is because the polycarbonate plastics in which it is present, is used in making a variety of products like bottles, health devices, electronic items, CDs, lens and food items.
Bisphenol-A is an estrogenic agent and an endocrine disruptor and can play havoc with the body’s hormones leading to health hazards. The danger is doubled since BPA can play havoc right from a pregnant lady to an infant and many others exposed to the products containing it. There are many other health hazards listed by health specialists. The BPA present in food cans or bottles tends to break down when washed or heated and this gets absorbed into the food item. This gets accumulated into the body when eaten. BPA gets into the body not just through diet but also through skin exposure and air.
BPA may result in some debilitating health hazards. This can affect as early as the womb of a pregnant women resulting in the baby’s abnormal weight, growth, cancer and fetal or neonatal death. In others, the main effect of BPA is cancer (breast cancer, prostate cancer, cancer of other organs) and hormonal debilities. Problems like diabetes, liver abnormalities, neurological disorders and fertility problems in both men and women. BPA is also found to damage the heart leading to coronary heart diseases. It can also go as deep as into the DNA altering it permanently causing genetic defects.
Though it is practically impossible to eliminate the use of plastics and canned food in our lives today, one can with some moderation and determination reduce their exposure to BPA. This can happen by choosing fresh unpacked foods to canned and plastic-packed foods. While buying food items like frozen foods, jams, sauces etc one should try to choose glass containers or cardboard ones over traditional plastic packing. Similarly, food in plastic food containers should not be placed in the microwave since they break down and release BPA. If such food has to be heated or hot liquids need to be poured into vessels, it is better to opt for glass and porcelain crockery instead of plastic ones. Coming to baby food, it is better to opt for BPA-free packed formula food as compared to tinned food. Pre-mixed food should be avoided to an extent. All said and done, the key to any healthy life is moderate and disciplined diet which includes fresh ingredients and devoid of carbonated drinks, processed foods and plastic containers and canned items.
In this modern day it is natural for every person to have some BPA content in their body. Maybe this is the bane of using plastics and tinned foods.