Plastic is currently one of the largest concerns in the world when it comes to ecological issues. It causes havoc in the oceans and proves increasingly difficult to dispose of safely. Therefore, the human race has entered an endless battle with this useful material. One part of this battle that we’re not all aware of is the fight for our health. Plastic can negatively impact the lives of many, but luckily in recent years, the scientific world has worked hard to uncover the causes. We now know that many of the health issues caused by plastics are down to BPA (Bisphenol A) and with that knowledge, progress has started to make our world BPA free.
What is Bisphenol A?
Bisphenol A is a synthetic compound that is commonly used in a wide range of commercial products. It can be located within the structure of polycarbonate plastics and in most instances presents no threat. However, when containers or bottles that use polycarbonates are heated, the structure breaks down slightly, allowing some BPA molecules to be released. Then, when we consume the contents of any BPA container we also consume the BPA molecules that have leaked out from the polycarbonate structure. At tiny levels, it is rare that BPA consumption has any impact, but with more frequent ingestion some serious issues can arise.
The Associated Risks
Consuming BPA typically isn’t the end of the world for a majority of people, but there are a variety of risks associated with it. In particular, there are many interactions between BPA and issues with the brain that are proving worrying for many.
Pregnant women should be especially careful of their BPA consumption as prenatal exposure to the substance has shown a trend of higher mental health risks in children and cases of depression and anxiety are more common in teenagers exposed to the substance. Furthermore, it is believed that BPA can affect the cognitive skills of those exposed to it. Research on animals has shown that a small dose can impact on memory and the ability to carry out basic tasks.
BPA is also a factor that attributes to high blood pressure and diabetes. In general research, a majority of people who had higher levels of BPA in their urine were shown to have a worse risk of hypertension and cardiovascular illness. However, those who carried out BPA free lifestyles had a typically healthier blood pressure level.
Finally, we can’t talk about the health risks of Bisphenol A without mentioning cancer. Most commonly it has been associated with higher risks of breast cancer, but more recent research has also shown a developing trend with prostate cancer too. Generally, if you are already at increased risk of either of these conditions, it is best to avoid BPA free materials entirely.
How to Stay Safe
There are many more regulations in place on the production of plastics than there used to be, but water bottles are still prone to containing BPA. Therefore, it is best to avoid buying bottled water as a whole. Instead, try buying BPA free water bottles and filling them up with fresh water at home. It is also advised to avoid heating any plastic containers when cooking food unless they are certified as being BPA free.