When the industry found consumers getting hip to BPA and its hormone disrupting qualities, they started looking at alternatives. While that was nice and all, the alternatives aren’t much better. In fact, some research found that most plastics, even those that are BPA-free, still leach hormone-mimicking chemicals when exposed to normal conditions. While the research took place a couple years ago, it reminds us to think twice when using and purchasing plastics.
Despite that the industry would like you to think “BPA-Free” labels make foods safe from hormone disrupters, researchers say that this simply isn’t the case. They tested more than 450 different plastic containers from stores like Walmart and Whole Foods. More than 70% of them released estrogen-like chemicals.
The containers they tested included those most likely to come in contact with food. Plastic bags, baby bottles, deli containers, and reusable plastic food containers were all tested. Because they knew BPA-containers would emit hormone-disrupters, they focused on those plastics that claimed to be “BPA-free”.
When exposed to saltwater and alcohol, the majority of the plastics released hormone disrupting chemicals. The number increased when they were put in the dishwasher, exposed to sunlight, or used in the microwave. These exposures are just the type that these plastics would undergo if used in your home.
Related: What do plastic recycling symbols mean? Find out which plastics are safest and which you should not use.
“Then, you greatly increase the probability that you’re going to get chemicals having estrogenic activity released,” said Professor of Biology George Bittner, adding that they increased the number of containers emitting hormone disrupters to 90%.
The study didn’t focus on health effects as much as the chemicals that the containers produced. Some scientists would argue that these disrupters aren’t proven to do any damage to humans, only mice and rats. Others say Bittner’s research isn’t completely reliable. But if a chemical causes infertility and cancer in rats, I don’t want to touch it.
However, those that have questioned BPA-effects before are welcoming the study.
“This is really helpful because they took a look at very common products,” says Sonya Lunder of the Environmental Working Group.
It seems when the scientific world is presented with studies like this, we are encouraged to continue on with business as usual until they know, without a doubt, that something is 100% likely to cause cancer, illness, death, or the like. While they may be convinced our retail habits are more important than our health, I’d like to think our informed readers know otherwise.