As new parents we constantly fret about our children’s safety. Since 2008 part of the fretting has been over the chemical BPA, which was commonly used in baby bottles, sippy cups and pacifiers. BPA is a chemical used to make certain types of plastics commonly used in food storage products. But BPA is also an endocrine disruptor; it can mimic the body’s own hormones and also disrupt hormone levels. There is evidence linking BPA to reproductive disorders, heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer and impaired brain function. It’s been banned from baby products, but is still commonly used in food packaging (mostly canned foods).
So now all parents are on constant alert for “BPA free” labels on most products they buy, but what they often don’t realize is that while a product may be BPA free, it can be made with other similar industrial chemicals that cause similar results. As for water containers for adults, there is no ban on BPA. We focus a lot on chemicals in tap water and filtering them out, but what chemicals are leached into your water from various water containers?
A recent study tested a variety of BPA free children’s sippy cups for various endocrine disruptors, and shockingly one quarter of those tested had high levels of BPA type chemicals, some of which have an even greater effect on the body.
So what can you do to prevent your exposure to these types of chemicals?
While giving a child a glass sippy cup might seem like a recipe for disaster, companies like life factory make bottles out of a shock resistant glass covered in a silicone sleeve, making it nearly impossible to break. Being made of glass also means they are easy to sterilize and easy to heat up milk in without any worries of leaching chemicals.
For stainless steel, my personal favourite for children is Klean Kanteen. They come in a variety of fun colours, and have incredible interchangeable caps giving you the option for a sippy cup or regular sports bottle. And best of all they are leak proof without the need of a cover. These bottles are made for rough little ones and are also a breeze to clean.
Keep in mind, both glass and stainless steel water bottles still have plastic caps and spouts. Because the water is only in contact with those plastic components for a short period of time the chance of leaching chemicals is much slimmer. Also most of the glass and stainless steel water bottle manufacturers are very conscious of what chemicals are used in their plastics.
In some cases you may still have to use plastic cups for your children’s beverages. Be safe and avoid colour-changing cups; they tend to have the highest levels of endocrine disrupting chemicals.
It is also recommended that you never put plastic cups in the microwave, dishwater or direct sunlight. The heat can break down the chemicals and increase the amount that is leached into your water. Wash plastic by hand and microwave food in glass containers to avoid contact with chemicals.
BPA products are not only bad for our health; they also cause a lot of damage to the planet. Share in the comments some plastic products that you have gotten rid of or what you’re doing to limit your family’s exposure to BPA.