Is BPA-Free Plastic Safe?

Is there BPA in your plastic? The answer isn’t as simple as companies want you to think.

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is as bad for our health as it is ubiquitous. BPA is a hormone disruptor and studies have linked it to all sorts of other health issues from digestive problems to poor brain development. What makes BPA extra frustrating is how hard it is to avoid. If it were just in certain types of plastic, it would be much easier, but BPA is common in receipts, can linings, and a slough of other products where you wouldn’t expect to find it.

Since the truth about BPA has come out, consumers have demanded BPA-free products, and companies have listened. Plastic water bottles and food and drink packaging proudly bear the “BPA Free” sticker. Some places here in the US are even banning BPA in products like plastic baby bottles. This makes it easy for us to choose BPA-free products, right? Well..yes and no.

BPS: A Sister Chemical

The thing that makes BPA appealing for plastic-makers is that, health concerns aside, it’s pretty darn useful. BPA is a plasticizer, which makes it a useful part of the plastic in can linings and in certain types of plastics, and it works well as a color developer for inkless papers, like carbon copy paper and the thermal paper that we use to print receipts. Manufacturers can’t just take BPA out of products. They have to replace it with something, and the something that many manufacturers have chosen is BPS, a “sister chemical” to BPA.

BPS shares many of BPA’s beneficial properties, but unfortunately it has another property in common with BPA: it also mimics estrogen, which means it probably is just as unhealthy for us as the BPA it’s replacing. Of course, not all BPA free products contain BPS, but the trouble is that there’s no way to know which ones to avoid.

The best way to keep BPA and BPS out of your life is to skip products that could contain either. On the next page, check out 5 ways to avoid BPA and BPS.

Next>> How to Avoid BPA and BPS

tin can

The best way to avoid BPA and BPS is to avoid anything that could contain them, regardless of whether there’s a BPA Free label on the package. Here are some ways to keep BPA out of your life to protect your health.

1. Avoid canned foods and sodas. BPA is common in can lining.

2. Skip the receipt and avoid carbon paper. Any inkless papers could contain BPA. Receipts that are printed with an ink printer should be OK.

3. Avoid #3 and #7 plastics. Even if they are marked BPA free, they can contain BPS.

4. Choose BPA free lids for canning. Many traditional canning jars use BPA in the lining. Go for safer canning jars instead.

5. Bring a reusable, glass water bottle. Plastic water bottles and the lining on metal bottles can contain BPA, and the BPA free types could contain BPS. Choose glass instead.

Want to read more about BPS? Beth Buczynski wrote a great piece on BPS and the problems with this BPA replacement.

{Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by stevendepolo}


Julia Cabrera-Woscek

it is so hard to keep track of this BPA stuff. I replaced storage containers in three homes and still afraid now that it said BPA FREE could not be free of hormones... hmmm.

paul m.
paul m6 years ago


Penny C.
penny C6 years ago

I always use glass bottles although not convenient they are safe & recycle.

Danuta Watola
Danuta W6 years ago

Thank you for posting.

J.L. A.
JL A6 years ago

good to know

Victoria L.
Victoria L6 years ago

So, is BPA/BPS in reusable metal water bottles? Ick...

Phillipa W.
Phillipa W6 years ago

I knew there was a reason I never trusted plastic. Funny thing about it is I read about how eating from plastic causes infertility in your children (not for yourself) while I was pregnant with my daughter in a science magazine, and people were still telling me not to use glass bottles. Sad how it took so long to get so much coverage - this has been known as a major issue for over seven years now

Sheri P.
Sheri P6 years ago

thanks! i've never heard of BPS...

Annemarie W.
Annemarie L6 years ago

thanks! I wonder if my stainless steel Klean Kanteen contains it. I would think not?

Winn Adams
Winn A6 years ago