Toxic Chemicals Found in Babies: 8 Ways to Protect Them (and You)
If you know some who’s pregnant, please tell them about this blog post today.
A recent post on the website for the Environmental Working Group (“EWG”) confirmed that laboratory tests commissioned by the EWG have, for the first time, detected bisphenol A (BPA), a plastic component and synthetic estrogen (known as “xenoestrogen”), in the umbilical cord blood of American infants. 9 out of 10 Tested Had BPA. This is a crying shame! Here is a link to that article.
According to the Health page at msn.com: “BPA is the main building block of polycarbonate plastic, a hard plastic widely used to make kitchen utensils, food storage containers, travel mugs, and water bottles. BPA is also a main component of the epoxy linings found in metal food and beverage cans. The problem: Polycarbonate plastics can leach BPA into our food and beverages. Heat, acid, alcohol, harsh detergents, age, and microwaving can also exacerbate the release of BPA, says Frederick vom Saal, a biology professor and BPA researcher at the University of Missouri. Because their reproductive organs are still developing, fetuses, infants, and children are especially vulnerable to synthetic estrogens in BPA. This means pregnant women and kids can benefit from reduced exposure to BPA. Reproductive-aged women may also want to be careful.”
While BPA may be impossible to completely eradicate from your life, here are 8 ways to reduce exposure:
1. Don’t store foods in plastic. Glass food storage containers are quite safe and there are plenty of wonderful Pyrex containers on the market. Just make sure you wash the plastic lids by hand.
2. Limit the use of canned foods and beverages. The epoxy liners of metal food and beverage cans most likely contain BPA. If you can, especially avoid buying canned foods that are acid (tomatoes, tomato-based soups, citrus products, and acidic beverages like colas) and canned alcoholic beverages, since acids and alcohols can worsen the leaching of BPA. Many foods and beverages can be purchased in glass containers (think beer, olive oil, and tomato paste).
3. Give up your plastic travel mug. Instead, choose an unlined stainless steel travel mug. This is especially important when transporting hot beverages, like coffee or tea.
4. Filter drinking and cooking water. Detectable levels of BPA have been found in municipal drinking water, so using a reverse osmosis and carbon filter is wise. They can generally can be found for less than $200.
5. Filter your shower and tub water. The problem with BPA is that it can easily be absorbed through the skin. BPA can be removed from the water by adding ceramic filters to shower heads and tubs. Just be sure to change them regularly.
6. Limit use of hard plastic water bottles. Many of those light-weight plastic bottles we use when hiking are made of polycarbonate plastic. Better to choose a stainless steel AND unlined water bottle as that plastic lining might contain BPA.
7. Minimize hard plastics in the kitchen. Hard plastic spatulas, spoons, measuring cups and colanders regularly come into contact with both food and heat. Better to replace them with wooden, metal, or glass alternatives.
8. Avoid the office water cooler. Unfortunately, those hard plastic jugs that many companies use to provide their employees and customers with “pure” water are usually made of BPA-containing polycarbonate.
I know all of this seems like a lot to take in, and more than annoying to implement. But it’s worth doing: BPA has been implicated in a lengthening list of serious chronic disorders, including cancer, cognitive and behavioral impairments, endocrine system disruption, reproductive and cardiovascular system abnormalities, diabetes, asthma and obesity.
Especially for pregnant women: Keep taking that folic acid. Not only does it help prevent birth defects, it may also help protect a developing fetus from the effects of the BPA you may inadvertently come into contact with even if you take steps to reduce exposure.
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