Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a synthetic estrogen that can disrupt the endocrine system, even in small amounts. It has been linked to a wide variety of ills, including infertility, breast and reproductive system cancer, obesity, diabetes, early puberty, behavioral changes in children and resistance to chemotherapy treatments. It is an industrial chemical used to make two common synthetics:

  • Polycarbonate, a clear, rigid, shatter-resistant plastic found in a wide variety of consumer products, including food and drink containers.
  • Epoxy resins, used in industrial adhesives and high-performance coatings. Epoxy coating lines most of the 131 billion food and beverage cans made in the U.S. annually.

Bisphenol A can leach into food from the internal epoxy resin coatings of canned foods and from consumer products such as polycarbonate tableware, food storage containers, water bottles, and baby bottles. Human exposure to BPA is widespread. The 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found detectable levels of BPA in 93% of 2517 urine samples from people six years and older. The CDC NHANES data are considered representative of exposures in the United States.

In 2011, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health determined that volunteers who ate a single serving of canned soup a day for five days had ten times the amount of BPA in their bodies as when they ate fresh soup daily. Some animal studies suggest that infants and children may be the most vulnerable to the effects of BPA. Parents and caregivers can reduce exposures of their infants and children to BPA:

  • Don’t microwave polycarbonate plastic food containers. Over time it may break down from over use at high temperatures.
  • Avoid plastics that are marked with recycle codes 3 or 7.
  • Reduce your use of canned foods, particularly if you are pregnant.
  • Opt for glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers, particularly for hot food or liquids.
  • Use baby bottles that are BPA free.
  • Buy baby formula in glass or other non-metal or BPA-free plastic containers. When possible, choose powdered formula because the packaging contains less BPA and the powder is diluted with fresh water.
  • Look for canned food labeled BPA-free or buy food packed in glass jars or waxed cardboard cartons. 

See EWG’s report on which companies have cans lined with non-BPA alternatives.

Visit EWG for more info: .