There is a growing concern that plastics containing BPA are hazardous for human health. BPA research is still ongoing. But there are concerns that BPA in plastic can interfere with hormones in the human body. When you use certain plastics in certain applications, your reproductive health could potentially be at risk. So a range of companies manufacturing plastic products is bringing out ranges that are BPA-free. Unfortunately, just because a plastic is BPA-free, that does not mean that it is harmless for humans or our planet.
Plastic containers may be hazardous to human health
As you may be aware, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of baby bottles containing bisphenol A (BPA), a compound frequently found in plastics, in 2012. This led to BPA alternatives being released for sale – many containing bisphenol S (BPS).
Unfortunately, research has revealed that BPS could be just as harmful as BPA. BPS was used as a BPA replacement because it was believed to be more resistant to leaching. But a research has revealed that over 80 percent of Americans have detectable levels of BPS in their urine. They found that even concentrations of less than one part per trillion of BPS can disrupt a cell’s normal function. When a cell's normal function is disturbed, diabetes, obesity, asthma, birth defects or cancer can potentially occur.
Another study from 2011 published in Environmental Health Perspectives reported that when scientists tested commercially available plastic products labeled as BPA-free, almost all of them leached out chemicals known to have estrogenic activity, meaning that they mimicked human estrogen. Some of the chemicals had even more estrogenic activity than the BPA they replaced.
Just because BPA has been replaced in a plastic container – that does not necessarily mean that it has been replaced with a non-hazardous material. And another thing to bear in mind is that when scratched or damaged, plastic containers may harbor harmful bacteria – posing yet more hazards to human health.
Plastic containers hurt humans and our planet on a broader scale
The problems with plastic do not only relate to immediate human health concerns. All plastic creation involves an immense carbon toll. Production of ethylene and all plastic items contributes significantly to global warming. The raw material itself is derived from finite and polluting fossil fuels. And dirty energy is often used to form materials and products. Producing plastic items also takes its toll in terms of other resources – like water, for example.
Of course, global warming is a hazard greater than any other faced by humanity. We have to recognize that our climate crisis is the biggest hazard to human beings of all.
Then there is the problem of what happens to plastic containers at the end of their useful life. Plastic pollution is another major problem for people and our planet. Plastic waste destroys ecosystems. It kills wildlife and makes our world an increasingly damaged place. That is not only 'sad' – it is a threat to our very existence on this planet. We must remember that we rely on the world's ecosystems to live.
What can we use instead? Glass, food-grade silicone, and stainless steel containers are safe options because you can store hot or cold foods without the fear of chemicals leaching into the food stuff.