Plastic food and water containers commonly used every day have been shown by research to leach chemicals if they are scratched or heated.
Latest research also shows that there might be cause for concern as chemicals known as phthalates, known to disrupt testosterone and other hormones, can leach into bottled water over time.
One study found that water which had been stored for 10 weeks in plastic and in glass bottles contained phthalates, suggesting that the phthalates could be coming from the plastic cap or liner.
It is interesting to note that there are regulatory standards limiting phthalates in tap water, but no legal limits in bottled water; the bottled-water industry waged a successful campaign opposing the FDA proposal to set a legal limit for these chemicals.
Research also strongly suggests that at certain exposure levels, some of the chemicals in these products, such as bisphenol A (BPA), may cause cancer in people.
BPA is a weak synthetic oestrogen found in many rigid plastic products, food and formula can linings, dental sealants. Its activity makes it a hormone disruptor, like many other chemicals in plastics, affecting the action of oestrogen and other hormones in the body by blocking them or mimicking them, which throws off the body’s hormonal balance. Oestrogen can make hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer develop and grow, that’s why many women choose to limit their exposure to these chemicals that can act like oestrogen.
BPA also seems to affect brain development in the womb. In 2011, a study found that pregnant women with high levels of BPA in their urine were more likely to have daughters who showed signs of hyperactivity, anxiety, and depression. The symptoms were seen in girls as young as 3. It’s not clear why boys aren’t affected in the same way.
How should we reduce our exposure to BPA in plastic containers
- Always use glass, steel, or ceramic water bottles
- Reduce your canned food intake and also the quantity of formula your baby consumes
- Only use baby bottles with labels that say “BPA free.”
- Look closely at plastics with a number 7 recycling symbol on the bottom. If the plastic doesn’t also say “PLA” or have a leaf symbol on it, it may contain BPA.
- Never cook food in plastic containers as the plastic residuesmay leach into food when heated in a regular or microwave oven.
- Always use glass, porcelain, enamel-covered metal, or stainless steel pots, pans, and containers for food and beverages whenever possible, especially if the food or drink is hot.
- Plastics with recycling symbol 2, 4, and 5 are generally considered OK to use.