Reasons to Avoid BPA and BPS Plastics
Plastics are nonchalantly used every day. Still, most people are unaware that two toxic chemicals commonly found in plastics have harmful effects. Bisphenol A (BPA) and bisphenol S (BPS) are xenoestrogens, compounds that mimic estrogen growth  . The government does not require plastic companies to report what chemicals are used in plastic production. Many researchers still believe that avoiding these plastics is the best way to evade these harmful and widespread compounds.
What is BPA?
BPA is one of the most widely used synthetic compounds on the planet and is a synthetic phenol extensively used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins . The worrying aspect of BPA-containing containers and packaging is that the chemical leaches out of food and beverage containers and into the contents [4-7]. For example, people are most exposed to BPA through plastic food packaging, dental equipment, children’s toys, canned foods (through the lining), and receipt paper. This toxic substance is associated with infertility, breast and prostate cancers, and metabolic disorders, primarily due to its ability to mimic estrogen, a female sex hormone . Plus, unlike other chemicals, BPA accumulates in the body , and this accumulation can lead to congenital disabilities, as shown in animal studies .
What is BPS?
BPS is considered a newer replacement to BPA because it was thought to be more resistant to leaching . However, over 80% of Americans have detectable BPS levels in their urine, and once it enters the body, it affects cells similarly to BPA . Like BPA, BPS is an endocrine disruptor and can be transferred from mother to child via the placenta and breast milk  .
The plastic industry has responded to the public’s increasing awareness of BPA’s harms, so the market responded by creating BPS. Now, a company can label a product as BPA-free even if the product contains BPS. Still, researchers have found that many products tagged BPA-free contain high amounts of BPS, making these plastics equally dangerous  .
Health Risks Associated with BPA and BPS
Prenatal exposure increases the risk of reproductive disorders. Pregnant mothers exposed to BPA have an increased risk of fetal mutations, infections, and miscarriage. Further, exposure adversely impacts fertility, harms the uterus’ endometrium lining, and may increase reproductive disorders, including polycystic ovary syndrome in female children   .
Moreover, these harmful effects are not limited to female reproduction. Many studies have noted that BPS exposure disturbs the antioxidant balance in testicular tissue, lowers testosterone levels, and adversely impacts male fertility . In a 2019 study titled “Bisphenol a: an emerging threat to male fertility,” researchers noted Italian studies “where infertile men had significantly higher levels of BPA compared to fertile men”  . In another study, fertility researchers collected urine and semen samples. They found “urinary BPA concentrations, measured on the same day as a semen sample, were associated with suggestive declines in semen quality parameters and with increased sperm DNA damage,” noting that BPA likely affects sperm health  .
Postnatal BPA Exposure Adversely Affects Child Cognition. Studies have found that BPA exposure negatively affects a child’s behavior, with lowered cognition to increased behavioral problems  . Researchers have linked increased BPA concentration in a parent’s urine with depression and hyperactivity in their children and found that prenatal exposure to BPA is associated with depression and anxiety symptoms in boys   .
Increased Oxidative Stress. In a study published in August 2020, researchers noted that BPS is replacing BPA because of BPA’s “toxic, endocrine-disrupting and possible carcinogenic effects” . Still, the study indicated that both BPA and BPS significantly decreased intracellular antioxidant capacity and increased damage to biomacromolecules, which are the main targets of oxidative stress .
This oxidative stress is not confined to reproductive organs either. A 2017 study noted this effect in the testes, brain, liver, and kidneys . Oxidative stress is linked to decreased testosterone levels, increased liver disease risk, increased renal injury and chronic kidney disease risk, and increased instances of brain fog, headaches, depression, anxiety, and fatigue [28-33].
How to Reduce Exposure
It is imperative to know how much plastic we contact and limit our exposure to these toxic chemicals. Even if we restrict exposure by not drinking from plastic, most household and cosmetic products are in plastic containers containing BPA or BPS. So, it is vital to take inventory of products that contain BPA or BPS.
- Choose cardboard and glass over plastic
- Avoid canned food, unless the can is BPA- and BPS-free
- If you bottle-feed your child, use a glass bottle or a BPA- and BPS-free bottle
- If you must use plastics, only use plastics with 1, 2, 4, or 5 in their recycling symbol
- Avoid frozen packaged fruits and vegetables by electing for their fresh counterparts
- If you have the option, choose not to get a receipt, since thermal paper contains BPA
- Use glass or ceramic cookware
- Remove toys and products with 3, 6, or 7 symbols from your home to protect your kids
- And, of course, avoid plastic water bottles
If you would like to read more about toxic household chemicals, check out “Five Common Household Chemicals That Are Toxic.”
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