Friday, October 15, 2010

Canada declares BPA toxic


According to the Toronto Sun, Canada has declared bisphenol-A (commonly know as BPA) a toxic substance. According to U.S. PIRG, BPA, a chemical very commonly found in plastics such as water bottles, canned foods, baby bottles and toys, is used to line nearly all food and beverage containers, and is nearly impossible to avoid. This new classification, however, effectively bans the substance from all products manufactured in or entering Canada.

Here in the U.S., BPA has been under attack for several years as the FDA considers a possible ban on the substance, but change is slow to come. Back in January, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expressed concern over the health risks of BPA, which is believed to mimic estrogen in the body, and has been linked to various types of cancer. The FDA is particularly concerned about "the effects of the chemical on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children.”

Despite consumer outrage and FDA concern, progress to ban BPA from children's products is slow-going. Five U.S. states, several New York counties, and Chicago have already banned the substance from infant formula and baby bottles, but it is still widely present in products.

There are a number of good resources available to help parents identify products that may contain BPA. The National Toxicology Program website has a simple but comprehensive fact sheet for parents, as well as links to other resources, and the state of Massachusetts produced a brochure, outlining advice for parents. While pregnant or breastfeeding, mothers should eat as much fresh or frozen food as possible (as opposed to canned). And if possible, breastfeeding is best. Avoid plastic food containers and bottles, especially when heating food. Learn to identify bottles that have BPA in them--bottles that have the number 7 on the bottom, generally contain BPA. Be sure to buy and use bottles, toys and pacifiers that are labeled "BPA-free."

Much of this change needs to happen on a policy level, so as always, concerned parents should contact their legislators. But in the meantime, it's a good idea to take as many precautions as possible to keep our children safe.

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