In a recent study by the University of Exeter, 86% of teens were found to have Bisphenol A (BPA) in their digestive system. BPA is a chemical added in the production of plastics to make the material flexible yet strong. It is also a known endocrine disruptor; the chemical imitates female sex hormones and has been linked to a number of adverse health effects, such as breast and prostate cancers, low sperm counts and sperm disfigurements in men, liver enzyme abnormalities and cardiovascular issues.
BPA has been used since the 1960s, when the use of everyday plastics began to proliferate in society. The chemical is still found in many familiar items, including: the linings of food cans, food containers, water bottles and bottle tops, dental floss, till receipts, DVDs and processed foods.
The 94 participants, aged 17-19, in the U.K. study were asked to avoid foods that may have come into contact with BPA for seven days prior to urine testing. Each received a set of ‘real-world’ guidelines designed to help them limit exposure to the chemical compounds, e.g. avoiding fruits and vegetables packed in plastic containers, as well as canned foods and microwaveable meals. Results indicate it was almost impossible for them to avoid BPA products. These efforts made little to no difference in the levels of BPA found in the teens’ bodies. Furthermore, it’s reported “participants also told researchers that they were unlikely to keep up a BPA-free diet, because of the difficulty in identifying foods containing the chemical compounds.”
This disturbing study is the latest to sound the alarm on the impacts of plastics on human health. It is yet another wake-up call for individuals, businesses and government to take measures to avoid plastics wherever possible — and to demand more transparent labelling on packaging, as well as stricter policies on use, so consumers can make more conscious and informed decisions.
Read the study in BMJ Journals
9 ways to limit BPA exposure (via NRDC)