A new study finds that many BPA-free brands advertised as safe may be anything but.
Many BPA-free plastics may leach BPA-like chemicals that are potentially damaging to human health, a dilemma Mother Jones explored in our exposé on the plastics industry earlier this year. But consumers have had no way of knowing which of the items lurking in their pantries might wreak havoc on their hormones. Until now. A new paper in the journal Environmental Health identifies specific plastic products—including AVENT baby bottles, CamelBak sippy cups, and Lock & Lock food storage containers—that leach estrogen-mimicking chemicals. Perhaps more importantly, it also names a few options that are hormone-free.
Between 2010 and 2013, scientists from CertiChem, a private lab in Austin, tested 50 reusable BPA-free plastic containers. In most cases, they used a line of human breast cancer cells that multiplies in the presence of estrogen, as well as substances like BPA that mimic the female hormone. The researchers found that some products leached hormone-altering chemicals even before being exposed to conditions, such as heat from a dishwasher or microwave, that are known to unlock potentially toxic chemicals inside plastic. And most containers did so under some circumstances. After exposure to the type of ultraviolet rays that are found in sunlight (UVA) and used to sterilize baby bottles (UVC), more than three-quarters of the containers tested released synthetic estrogens. The chart below shows the results for a sampling of products before and after UV exposure.
Are There Hormone-Altering Chemicals in Your Plastic Bottle?
|Product||Type of plastic||Before UV exposure||After UV exposure|
|AVENT||Polyester (PES)||Not tested||Positive|
|Born Free||Polyester (PES)||Not tested||Positive|
|Green to Grow||Polyester (PES)||Negative||Positive|
|CamelBak, black||Tritan||Not tested||Positive|
|CamelBak, blue||Tritan||Not tested||Positive|
|Topas||Cyclic Olefin Copolymer (COC)||Negative||Negative|
|Zeonor||Cyclic Olefin Polymer (COP)||Negative||Negative|
|Crate & Barrel wine glasses, red*||Acrylic||Positive||Positive|
|Disposable cup||Polystyrene (PS)||Positive||Not tested|
|Lock & Lock food containers||Tritan||Positive||Positive|
|Clamshell takeout container*||Polystyrene (PS)||Positive||Not tested|
*Tested using BG-1 cells
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source: George D. Bittner, et al, Environmental Health Chart by Jaeh Lee
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