Friday, April 29, 2011

Bisphenol A (BPA)

Bisphenol A, what is that? 
It sounds complicated, and yet we encounter it every day, possibly ingesting it as well.  Bisphenol A or BPA is used to form the epoxy resin that lines our pre-packaged canned beans, tomato sauce, sodas, soups, bottled water and vegetables.  Basically if anything is canned you can guarantee that the inside of the metal can is lined with BPA. 

How do you identify if Bisphenol A is in your product?

Simply look for the symbol below.

Bisphenol Recycling Symbol

Why use BPA in the first place?

BPA`s are used a protective coating to ensure that the acidic contents do not rust away the metal shell of the can.  Our throwaway culture sets the precedent here, rather than using reusable containers, industry leaders are able to get away with creating waste with no responsibility for the mess left behind. 

What are the negative effects of BPA's?

BPA's can leach from the protective plastic lining into your foods.  BPA's have an effect on reproductive systems such as fertility, and has been identified as a hormone disruptor.  BPA's are also found to inhibit development for our kids and babies.  BPA's are also suspected to cause problems with our neurological systems, and obesity.

What has been done about BPA's?

One of the things that Canada has gotten right lately in our myriad of environmental action deficiencies, we were the first to declare BPA's as a toxic substance and ban it inside baby bottles.  The European Union followed suit and banned BPA's in baby bottles as well.  Japan's canning industry has already voluntarily phased out BPA's.  The US has recently voted to phase out BPA's for baby bottles, and reusable food/beverage containers by 2012.

How can we eliminate BPA`s from our society?

Recently Coca-Cola decided to shy away from eliminating BPA's from their products, even though 25% of their shareholders voted so.  As a temporary solution their are a few companies (such as Eden) that offer BPA free canning, simply just look for a label stating as such.  Most likely these products will be of the organic variety. On that note as a temporary solution businesses using BPA ridden products should phase out the resin/epoxy coating with a replacement.

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The fact that BPA's are present in our products underlines a problem with our current state of society, we are built for throwaway.  If we would replace the cans with reusable glass containers, or with a bulk system where you bring your own container, we would not have the need for the epoxy coating on the inside of the cans, thus we don't expose ourselves needlessly to a toxic substance.

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