Bisphenol A: Invisible Killer In chapter eight: “Mothers Know Best” of Slow Death by Rubber Duck, the authors made many claims about the health hazards and the ethical issues with the chemical bisphenol A or BPA.
Bisphenol A (BPA) was discovered in 1891 by Russian chemist Aleksandr Dianin. It has been used since the 1950s to harden polycarbonate plastics and make epoxy resin which is contained in the lining of food and beverage containers”(Wikipedia). BPA is found in common foods and household items such as baby bottles, canned foods, plastic water bottles, plastic containers, plastic wrap, CDs/DVDs, eyeglass lenses, hockey helmets, visors, medical supplies, and airplanes/vehicles.
In fact, we are all being exposed to this chemical without any awareness. “BPA is one of the most commonly produced chemicals in the world, with industry pumping out just under 3 billion kilograms in 2004 versus 45 million kg in 1970” (228). This chemical is highly dangerous under continuous exposure and so it is of the utmost importance that consumers be aware of exposure and consumption of the chemical. This essay will discuss the claims made regarding BPA, the health hazards from exposure to, how to avoid this chemical, the number of people affected and the ban that was implemented to protect youth and adults from exposure. BPA has become a part of our lives and occurs in our bodies, surrounds us in our everyday interactions, irrespective of our knowledge of it. The manufacturing industry has been careless to not only utilize this chemical, but also withhold important information to properly educate and inform the public with regards to its effects on the body. The truth is, we have become so dependant on the products that contain these chemicals that it is difficult for society to stop using them and seek safe alternative. “The environment is no longer an abstract, esoteric, ephemeral and and romantic notion”(225).
The world that we live in now is a world where pollution is virtually invisible compared to days gone by. If one does not have the knowledge to make informed decisions about the day to day products that we use, then likely, one is being exposed to these harmful chemicals. The authors claim that if we don’t make the first steps to change the use of this chemical, human consumption of BPA will only increase with time. “A stunning 93% of Americans tested have measurable amounts of BPA in their bodies. Canadians are almost certainly polluted at similar levels.
BPA is rapidly metabolized by the human body – in just a few hours. We are marinating in BPA everyday” (227). It is incredible that this number of people have BPA in their bodies without any awareness of how they ingested it, and how it is affecting their health and general well being.
“Two hundred high priority chemicals are used commonly in everyday life. Bisphenol A was at the top of the list” (227). BPA is utilized in top manufacturing brands (containers, canned goods, etc) and at this rate, it is difficult to see an end to its use. The author claims that BPA is the cause of various types of cancer, and the use of BPA products may cause life threatening defects to the human body.
This chemical is a huge health risk to our society, however, we can decrease the number of people affected by creating awareness and encourage the use of safer alternatives such as glass containers, foods, and bottles labelled as BPA free. The chemical composition of BPA in polycarbonate bottles is such that when heated in a microwave, BPA leaches into the food in contact with the container. BPA lined canned goods also put foods at risk. Tomatoes are the worst for BPA contamination as the acidity of the fruit breaks down the interior of the can, releasing the BPA into the food. “It logically follows from this that human exposure to BPA increases the likelihood of developing breast cancer later in life” (233). BPA is a synthetic sex hormone (estrogen). “BPA is a chemical produced in large quantities for use primarily in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins.
The NTP Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction completed a review of BPA in September 2008. The NTP expressed some concern for effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and children at current human exposures to bisphenol A” (Endocrine disruptors). BPA also has Endocrine disruptors which are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife. Some other effects are obesity, brain damage, development problems, reproduction system, cancer, high blood pressure, early puberty and type 2 diabetes. As people are learning more about BPA and its effects, they are becoming increasingly concerned about the damage this chemical has already done to their bodies.
“Phone calls in the office from people wanting to their personal levels of pollution tested. All sorts of people, young and old. Moms and dads. Plumbers and physiotherapists” (225).
It is important to remember that BPA is toxic at very low levels. The effects of BPA are becoming extremely common in people. In fact, breast cancer is occurring at a rate of 1 in 8 women and prostate cancer at a rate of 1 in 39 in men.Information is power and consumers need to know how to protect themselves from this chemical and how to identify the existence of BPA when shopping for everyday products and foods.
Every canned good or plastic container has a recycling number printed on the bottom of the container. This number is important to observe and this can determine if its safe or if it is toxic to you. “Plastic #1: Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) Typically used to make bottles for soft drinks, water, juice, mouthwash, sports drinks and containers for condiments like ketchup, salad dressing, jelly and jam, PET is considered safe, but it can actually leach the toxic metal antimony, which is used during its manufacture. Plastic #2: High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) HDPE, which is considered a low-hazard plastic, is often used for milk, water and juice bottles, as well as bottles for cleaning supplies and shampoo. It’s also used to make grocery bags and cereal box liners. Plastic #3: Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) PVC plastic can be rigid or flexible, and is commonly found in bags for bedding, shrink wrap, deli and meat wrap, plastic toys, table cloths and blister packs used to store medications.PVC flooring has been linked to chronic diseases including allergies, asthma and autism.
Plastic #4: Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) Another plastic that is considered a low hazard, LDPE is used in bags for bread, newspapers, fresh produce, household garbage and frozen foods, as well as in paper milk cartons and hot and cold beverage cups. Plastic #5: Polypropylene (PP) PP plastic is used to make containers for yogurt, deli foods, medications and takeout meals. While polypropylene is said to have a high heat tolerance making it unlikely to leach chemicals, at least one study found that PP plastic ware used for laboratory studies did leach at least two chemicals. Plastic #6: Polystyrene (PS) Polystyrene, also known as Styrofoam, is used to make cups, plates, bowls, take-out containers, meat trays and more.
Plastic #7: Other This is a catch-all designation used to describe products made from other plastic resins not described above, or those made from a combination of plastics. It’s difficult to know for sure what types of toxins may be in #7 plastics, but there’s a good chance it often contains BPA or the new, equally concerning chemical on the block in the bisphenol class known as Bisphenol-S (BPS)”(hazardous plastics).The overall questions is how would the government allow this chemicals to be sold legally and what were the chemists thinking when they infected billions of people and released this product that will affects people’s lives and what are the bans that are protecting Canadians. So what were they thinking? “The short answer is that they aren’t thinking about that at all.
And to the extent that any brain synapses were firing, the assumption may have been made that BPA would remain bound in the harm. Wrong, as it turns out, on both counts”(229). The biggest argument that made this come to attention is the use of BPA in baby bottles thankfully the federal government came to their senses and made the step to change the planet. “Things really went nutso on April 15, 2008..
.federal government would be declaring BPA a “toxic” substance within a few days and banning it in certain products, such as baby bottles”(241).To conclude while plastics are useful in our daily lives it’s all things associated with modern science we must always proceed with caution and inform judgment.
BPA has been proven to negatively affect humans and with this information an informative decision has to be made by the individual to change there ways of life. Work Cited”Bisphenol A.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Jan. 2018, en.
wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisphenol_A.”Endocrine Disruptors.” National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services, www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine/index.
cfm.”Getting to Know Your Plastics: What the 7 Numbers Mean.” Mercola.com, articles.
“Prostate Cancer: What Are The Risk Factors?” PCF, www.pcf.org/c/prostate-cancer-risk-factors/.”Understanding Risk.
” Susan G. Komen®, ww5.komen.org/Breastcancer/Understandingrisk.html.