Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Is A BPA-Free Bottle Really Safe?

Nowadays, when I shop for milk and water bottles for my daughters I tried to find those which labelled "BPA-Free" in the hope that they would be safer for them. Are these bottles really better than the old "BPA-contained" bottles?

BPA, acronym of Bisphenol-A, an estrogen-mimicking compound found in plastic, store receipts, soup cans, water bottles, and other products, is potentially toxic. In the past few years, more and more companies are removing BPA from their products. Before the removal of BPA companies have to find an alternative compound to replace it and it is called BPS (Bisphenol-S), which only with a word different. Even with the so-called safe alternative to BPA, BPS disrupts estrogen hormones in disturbingly similar ways to BPA. The safe alternative isn’t so safe after all.

In a paper recently published in Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers from the University of Texas examined the effect of BPS in rats, where they found that BPS can mimic the body’s estrogen hormones, just like BPA.

Now, how safe is BPS? BPS is basically the same molecular structure as BPA. The only difference is that one of the linking element in the middle of the molecule is a sulfur. According to Cheryl Watson, co-author of the paper and a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Texas Medical Branch, molecules with the same shape, you would suspect them to act on the same receptors. And yet, companies started using BPS as a BPA replacement without knowing whether it was harmful.

Part of the reason that BPS was used as an alternative is that it doesn’t leak out of plastic as much as BPA. But Watson said, "The problem is that hormones and things that mimic hormones are so potent that if you have just tiny amounts of them they still cause these responses."

It’s hard to say exactly how BPS affects human health; it’s new enough that extensive studies haven’t been done. BPS is suspected to impact human health just like BPA, which has been linked to diabetes, asthma, issues with neuro-development, obesity, and more.

The question now is that should we pay more to buy those BPA-free products? I am also not sure!

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