6 Steps to Avoiding BPA in Your Daily Life

BPA (bisphenol-A) is a potentially toxic estrogen-mimicking compound used in plastic production that has been linked to breast cancer, early puberty, infertility, and other maladies. It's dangerous enough that it has been banned in baby bottles in Europe, Canada, and even China—but not in the U.S. And it turns out that it's almost entirely unavoidable. It's in water bottles, store receipts, soup cans, and plastic-packaged foods, and many more products we encounter on a daily basis, according to a study from the Breast Cancer Fund and the Silent Spring Institute. The study, Food Packaging and Bisphenol A and Bis(2-Ethyhexyl) Phthalate Exposure: Findings from a Dietary Intervention, suggests that the best solution is subsisting on a fresh-food diet, which could cut down on BPA exposure by at least 60%. Here's what you need to do in your daily life to mimic the study's results—and how much of a hassle it may be.

  • Drink tap water or rely on BPA-free stainless steel water bottles (from companies like Nalgene or Sigg) instead of slugging down bottled water. Difficulty Rating: Easy
  • Instead of eating microwavable meals that come out of plastic containers, eat only freshly-prepared, organic foods. Difficulty Rating: Moderate (or hard, depending on where you live, the size of your bank account, and how lazy you are).
  • Instead of using plastic utensils, rely on the longer-lasting variety. Difficulty Rating: Easy
  • To be safe, avoid all canned foods and replace with non-canned variations (replace canned soup with soup in a carton, for example) unless cans denote that they have a BPA-free lining. If that's not possible, avoid these specific canned foods, which are known to be high in BPA: coconut milk, soup, meat, vegetables, meals, juice, fish, beans, meal-replacement drinks, and fruit (yes, we realize that encompasses most canned foods). Take special care to avoid foods that are acidic, salty, or fatty. Difficulty Rating: Hard
  • Steer clear of plastic storage containers for leftover food. Instead, use glass containers along with BPA-free plastic lids. The food should not touch the lids.  Difficulty Rating: Easy
  • Instead of using a plastic coffee-maker or going out for coffee, use a French press or ceramic drip. Difficulty Rating: Moderate (if you like to drink your coffee during the workday)

Even if you follow all of these steps, BPA will inevitably linger in your body; traces of it are found in extremely unlikely places, such as whole eggs and milk (due to pre-market processing). But many of these suggestions will lead to a healthier lifestyle, regardless—there's little downside to eating fresh food, avoiding bottled water, and cutting back on impulse coffee purchases. There's no harm in trying, and certainly no harm in reducing the poisonous toxins in your body. Unless you're into that sort of thing.

Related: BPA-Free Plastics Still Leach Estrogen-Mimicking Chemicals: Report

Reach Ariel Schwartz via Twitter or email.

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  • Frank Maguire

    No idea when this was written, but it seems to perpetuate a whole bunch of myths around BPA. 

    I would be the first to get behind people no longer buying water in plastic bottle containers, however avoiding BPA is not a reason for that. The Polyethylene Tetrachloride (PET) that most water bottles are made of does not contain BPA, neither do most plastic storage containers, most being made of Polyethylene or Polypropylene.

    BPA is used as a hardener in Polycarbonate (the type of plastic a DVD is made from) or for epoxy which is where it ends up lining cans. Those are the plastics that need to be targeted to reduce BPA. Let's not perpetuate myths, which can then be used to break down the story of why BPA needs to be removed from our food production stream.