BPA-Free Plastics May Not Be Safe

In 2008, the news burst on the media everywhere: common plastics contained potentially dangerous levels of bisphenol a (BPA) an additive that could be hazardous to consumer health. It leached into food and drinks, especially when plastics were warmed, posing a risk in baby bottles, water bottles, plastic storage containers and more. The plastics industry was reluctant to face the truth on BPA, but under pressure, it gave in — now, many plastic products are proudly labeled BPA-free.

So that means you’re safe, right? Your plastics have been guaranteed free of the nasty chemical everyone was so worried about, and you can go back to business as usual.

Not so fast. An environmental researcher in Oakland, California got concerned. He wasn’t totally convinced that even BPA-free plastics were safe, and his worries were spurred by his daughter’s demands for her plastic sippy cup. He’d tried to get her to use a stainless steel one, but she was having none of it, so Michael Green sent her cup, and samples from a variety of locations, to an independent facility for testing.

What he found shocked him: these products exhibited high levels of estrogenic activity, which is not good news. Exposure to excessive estrogen can be a factor in the development of breast cancer. More troubling still, they passively leached estrogen-like chemicals even without being heated or stressed, and the lab’s results showed that the chemicals released were, at times, even more potent than BPA.

Consumers who thought they were doing the right thing by picking up BPA-free plastics were actually endangering themselves more, and paying a premium for it; as with other “green” products, BPA-free plastics were often more expensive than their conventional counterparts.

Meanwhile, manufacturers sued to prevent the release of the study, knowing that it might upset profits. While big tobacco is infamous in the United States, big plastic has its own large lobby and significant incentive — to the tune of billions a year — to suppress information regarding the potential physical and environmental harms associated with plastics. This study shows that even plastics marketed as “safe” may contain risks for consumers, and raises the risk of lawsuits as people discover that the products they relied on carried secret dangers.

The implications of this study could be huge. More and more consumers are already turning to glass and metal containers out of concerns about harmful chemicals found in plastics, and these numbers may increase in the wake of this information, as consumers may be reluctant to trust the plastics industry again even if it reformulates its products to address the issue. The growing consumer concerns about harmful chemicals in ordinary products explain why painters are doing a brisk business in no and low-VOC paints, why furniture companies are under pressure to take flame-retardant chemicals out of their products, and more.

As the plastics study illustrates, harmful chemicals can be hiding everywhere, even when you think you’re in a safe environment. Consumers count on people like environmental regulators to conduct unbiased testing to confirm the safety of new products on the market, and if this job isn’t being performed to satisfaction, it raises concerns about what else is lurking under your Cleveland flooring or inside your Miami refrigerator.

Katie Marks writes for Networx.com. This article originally appeared here.

Photo: Bradley Gordon/Flickr


Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Magdalena J.
Past Member 1 years ago

Thank you!

Magdalena J.
Past Member 2 years ago

Thank you!

june t.
june t.2 years ago

As time goes on I'm replacing older plastic containers with glass ones. So far there isn't quite the selection of glass to choose from as there is with plastic. but it is getting better.
Glass is heavier, though, so sometimes I do prefer the lighter plastic container when I'm carrying my lunch with me, not to mention that glass is breakable and the plastic usually just bounces if you drop it.

Jennifer C.
Past Member 2 years ago

Thank you.

Dale O.

This is hardly surprising, plastics seem to be one of the modern day scourges of the world, they are certainly doing nothing for the environment, not to mention people's health.

Christie C.
Christie C.2 years ago

I always suspected the BPA-free thing was a scam and boycott companies that use it as a marketing ploy to still sell food in plastic packaging.

I want to share a solution for water bottles that worked for me. If you have a health food store around (or maybe they can be found online), you may have seen the water bottles that are glass with a plastic sleeve on the outside to protect them. They are expensive but I needed something and took a chance. I've been using it for 2 years almost every day. I put hot tea in it sometimes and it took a few falls onto concrete floors but has survived. Water tastes much better out of glass than plastic or metal.

Speaking of taste, once you quit canned food for a few months, try some refried beans out of a can and be ready to spit them out when the taste of the can and plastic makes you want to hurl. Or just take my word for it, lol. We don't notice how awful these packaged foods taste growing up with them, but once your taste buds get a chance to recover, it's obvious how inferior plastic-wrapped food is. Only if starving will I again consider it edible.

Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson2 years ago


Alexandra G.
Alexandra G.2 years ago

thank you

Nils Anders Lunde
PlsNoMessage se2 years ago