In light of recent findings linking BPA exposure to premature births, let's start thinking big about the future of our materials.
Now truth be told, the fitness industry is flooded with low quality, low cost plastic bottles. And we have all heard the marketing lingo regarding the mysterious "BPA." Bisphenol A as it is otherwise known, is a chemical additive that helps create a durable and long-lasting plastic. The substance has been demonized as the end-all-be all of petro-toxic chemicals to avoid. But how bad is it?
The FDA has done extensive research on BPA, one of most popular plastics on the market today. As a result of public scrutiny, studies by the EPA were conducted to test for the substance's toxicology and biological impacts at the low-doses commonly detected in food products. As a result of the rodent test no significant effects discovered at low thresholds. However, researchers warn that there is evidence to show that BPA mimics hormones in our reproductive systems leading to potentially disruptive activity, carcinogenic activity at increased exposure, and mild estrogenic behavior at lower exposure.
In response to this evidence and a food additive petition from the American Chemistry Society in 2012 (77 Fed. Reg. 41,899), the FDA has amended its regulations to "no longer provide for the use of BPA-based epoxy resins and coatings in packaging for infant formula" or infant bottles. While controversial, these recommendations are grounded in real-world findings; research published in the journal of Reproductive Toxicology has shown BPA concentrations found in human fluid were consistent with the levels shown in vitro to induce effects. Also alarming, the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) conducted by the CDC found detectable levels of BPA in 93% of 2517 urine samples from people six years and older.
So we know BPA isn't great and is hotly contested. The question for consumers is what did it get replaced by and should we be worried? In a study published by Environmental Health Perspectives, substances such as Bisphenol S (BPS) and Bisphenol F (BPF) were shown to be as hormonally active as BPA. In other words, they have "disruptive" effects on the endocrine system at the cellular level in vitro and in vivo. These findings only lend credence to the results of earlier studies claiming that most plastic products release chemicals having estrogenic activity when stressed by things like UV (sunlight exposure) or autoclave (dishwasher).
Quite clearly, toxic additives and plastics are better left avoided.
Don't believe the marketing hype. "BPA free" does not mean "EA" (estrogenic activity) free.
So what can you do? We should all be more cognizant in our choices and vote with our dollars. We should choose alternative materials like stainless steel or push for products tested by firms like PlastiPure, an independent product evaluation and EA-free certification lab, to ensure estrogen or chemical leaching products do not make it to our shelves, into our water, or into our bodies.
There are alternatives, monomers and other additives that do not exhibit the estrogenic activity of most other plastics. Consumers should be aware of these alternatives and understand that by heating or stressing their plastics daily, they are potentially ingesting estrogenic and carcinogenic chemicals. The future evolution of our products lies in materials improvement.
Forget BPA Free, Let's get EA-free.