Featured Blogger: Coventina
I’m on a journey towards sustainability. I’m your average consumer.
I’m not an activist (yet). I’m married, a working mother, a wife, and from New England. I admit I‘ve been pretty casual about protecting the environment. In the past I’ve even been a bit cynical about “tree huggers.” My thought process has been “I recycle; therefore I am doing my part.” I’m now learning on this journey that recycling is a good start. But that’s all it is, a start.
The big challenge for me is bottled water. I love the convenience of grabbing a bottle on the run. So the decision now is convenience vs. the impact on the environment.
According to the Smithsonian Institute, almost 3 million tons of plastic are used to bottle water each year worldwide. What really stunned me is the fact that nearly 80 percent of all water bottles are not recycled and wind up in landfills. Plastic is made from petroleum, which is a non-renewable resource and a major contributor to global warming. These billions of bottles take up landfill space, leak toxins into the groundwater and IF they biodegrade it takes 1,000 year! Most of all I have a vision of our precious birds and ocean life choked to death by plastics. That vision moves me to help Mother Earth in any little way I can.
These facts have led me to research Bisphenol A (BPA), which is used to make plastic water bottles. I thought I could cover this in one blog post. Was I naïve. There is so much we need to know.
BPA is an organic compound with the chemical formula (CH3)2C(C6H4OH)2. It is a colorless solid that is soluble in organic solvents, but poorly soluble in water. Having two phenol functional groups, it is used to make polycarbonate polymers and epoxy resins, along with other materials used to make plastics. It exerts weak, but detectable, hormone-like properties, raising concerns about its presence in consumer products and foods contained in such products.
Starting in 2008, several governments questioned its safety, prompting some retailers to withdraw polycarbonate products. A 2010 report from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) raised further concerns regarding exposure of fetuses, infants, and young children. In September 2010, Canada became the first country to declare BPA a toxic substance. In the European Union and Canada, BPA use is banned in baby bottles.
Dangers of BPA:
BPA is a known Endocrine Disruptor, which means it interferes with how hormones work in the body by blocking their normal function. This chemical is so widespread that it has actually been detected in the bodies of 93% of Americans.
The most recent study regarding BPA has shown a confirmed link to heart disease. BPA is thought to suppress a hormone that protects people from having heart attacks, oxidative stress, and damages to the endothelial cells of blood vessels.
French researchers published data recently that links BPA with the functioning ability of the intestines, as this is the first organ to come in contact with the chemical after it is ingested from food and beverage containers. The study was conducted on animals, using a level that was 10 times below a level currently thought to be safe for humans.
Infertility and Reproductive Issues
Another animal study found that chronic exposure to even low-doses of
BPA can impair the growth and function of female antral follicles, the
egg cell which is involved in ovulation.
Another recent study focused on the hormonal effect on men. The
journal Human Reproduction published research on over 200 Chinese men
who were exposed to BPA in their workplace. Those men were four times
more likely to have erectile dysfunction and seven times more likely
to have ejaculation difficulties.
Diabetes and Obesity
BPA is also linked to diabetes and metabolic syndrome, two conditions
caused by a decrease in the body’s ability to effectively use insulin
in the pancreas. High levels of circulating insulin causes a reduction
in the body’s ability to break down fat, which leads to a greater risk
Behavioral Changes in Children
A study from the University of Chapel Hill highlighted the dangers of
children exposed to BPA from baby bottles and baby food containers.
Other research in children has shown that BPA is present in the
umbilical cords of newborns, suggesting that the mother’s exposure can
affect her offspring.