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Here’s how plastic containers could be negatively affecting your health.

Zee Krstic
September 17, 2018

BPA is an industrial chemical that’s been used in plastic for decades, and the FDA says “very low amounts” of exposure to it are safe. However, the Mayo Clinic says, “Exposure to BPA is a concern because of possible health effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children. Additional research suggests a possible link between BPA and increased blood pressure.”

In recent years, we’ve seen an explosion of BPA-free water bottles and food containers, and many people believe they’re safer. But, according to new research, buying BPA-free products might not be any healthier for you and your family.

Published in the journal Current Biology, new research says that common alternatives to BPA plastics also had a negative effect on mice, especially in their reproductive cells. As Quartz reports, this is the latest bit of evidence (among previously published research as early as 2011) that suggests any form of plastic used to create food and drink containers could potentially have its own set of health risks.

Washington State University Geneticist Patricia Hunt, who has spent a majority of her career studying the effects of BPA and how it affects consumers, led the team behind the new research. She was the original researcher who accidentally stumbled upon the harmful side effects of BPA after a lab worker mistakenly used a strong bleach-based cleaner on mice cages and it had adverse effects on the mice.

The new study compared the effects of BPA and its alternatives, known as BPS, BPF, and BPAF, on both female and male mice. Researchers found that these chemicals disrupted how genetic information was passed onto offspring among mice, and the team linked it to "bisphenols as a class." Like the first time around, Hunt noticed the side effects of bisphenols after washing BPA-free mice cages, which were made of polysulfone, a variation of plastic.

We've recently seen more news about the potentially harmful side effects of BPA, including the fact that BPA consumption could actually lead to ADHD in children. The problem is that BPA, which can be used to line paper receipts, plastic water bottles, and food packaging, is often found in canned foods here in America. If any kind of bisphenols have the potential to affect your health, widespread plastic use may be more of an issue than the health industry originally thought.

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In the past, advocacy groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council have petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to ban BPA. While the FDA refused, it did restrict the use of BPA in products like baby bottles, according to NPR.

“Although ‘BPA-free’ is a valuable marketing tool, and most consumers interpret this label as an indication of a safer product, our findings add to growing evidence from studies in C. elegans, zebrafish, mice, and rats, as well as human in vitro studies that replacement bisphenols have the potential to induce adverse effects similar to those reported for BPA," Hunt writes.