Is BPA-Free Plastic Really Safe? No, Says Study; It Is Just As Bad For Your Health
Is BPA-free plastic safe? (Photo Credits: Flickr, Rubbermaid)

Plastic paranoia is on the rise and for a good reason. It’s being held responsible for devastating health consequences, from endocrine disruption to cancer. People go to great lengths to look for that reassuring ‘BPA-Free’ sticker on plastic items such as water bottles. Companies also charge a premium on their “safe” plastic and buyers are ready to shell out extra bucks. But are these BPA-free products really safe? A new study has some disconcerting findings. The same researcher who discovered the health hazards or BPA two decades ago now claims that BPA-free plastics may be just as dangerous. Bottled Water in India Contains Microplastics! Here's How Plastic Harms Your Health.

BPA refers to Bisphenol A is a chemical that is commonly used in the production of plastics. However, the chemical can also be found in other products such as packaging, kitchenware, the inner lining of cans, dental sealants, feminine hygiene products and receipts. Pregnant Women Should Avoid Drinking Water From Plastic Bottles, Here's Why.

Biologist Patricia Hunt from Washington State University was the first to have uncovered the harm done by BPA used in plastic. She is the reason why we have had a BPA-free revolution.

The story behind the discovery is quite interesting. The researcher and her team discovered something was causing a change in the data of many ongoing studies involving female mice. They were able to conclude that the BPA in the cages used for the mice was leaching, causing reproductive abnormalities in them. The discovery led to a change in the way plastics has been viewed.

Exposure to the BPA can have far-reaching effects on the human body. It has been shown to play a role in the development of various endocrine problems such as infertility in men and women, early puberty, hormone-dependent tumours such as breast and prostate cancer and metabolic disorders like PCOS. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Could This Be the Cause of PCOS? Scientists Think So.

Last week, Hunt and her colleagues published another study in the journal Current Biology that common alternatives to BPA used in plastics could be just as bad. The study says that the replacements BPS (Bisphenol S), BPF (Bisphenol F), BPAF (Bisphenol AF), and diphenyl sulfone have the same biological effects, inducing meiotic (related to cell division). Researchers also concluded that the effects of exposure to these replacements could last for several generations in men.

The study followed the original research that took place two decades ago. The researchers kept a control group of lab mice in plastic cages containing BPA alternatives such as BPS, BPF, BPAF and diphenyl sulfone. The findings were stunning. The researchers found the same abnormalities. The male mice suffered a reduction in the number of their viable sperm cells and the female mice suffered an increase in abnormal eggs.

In the face of such disconcerting findings, it’s obvious that even BPA-free plastics can’t be as safe as they are thought to be. The only recourse is to consider other safer alternatives such as clay, glass or metal as utensils.

(Reference: The Bisphenol A Experience: A Primer for the Analysis of Environmental Effects on Mammalian Reproduction)