A few days ago I read a BBC article according to which the European Community is aiming within the year 2011 to ban the use of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) from the production of plastic baby bottles.
BPA is widely used for the production of food and beverage containers. However nine baby bottle manufacturers from the U.S.A. have stopped its use for the domestic production since 2009!
According to the National Childbirth Trust of Britain "when liquids - especially hot or fatty ones - are stored in plastic bottles containing BPA, the chemical element may leak into the contained liquid, especially when the bottles are scratched due to long-lasting use. Therefore infants, along with their food, consume part of the chemical, which in the end is absorbed by their fatty tissue". Canada is the first country which has characterized bisphenol A as a toxic substance whose adverse effects are related with baby development impairment, immune system weakening and tumor growth.
As expected, the chemical industry and also part of the scientific community are opposed to the above mentioned allegations and believe that the EC is overreacting, as there is not enough convincing evidence that the amount of the chemical detected in baby bottles can not be metabolized by infants.
After a quick research in the Internet I came across many other articles and studies incriminating bisphenol A, connecting it with a number of ailments, even of adults. Indicative is a study published at the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) which concludes that "raised levels of bisphenol A in human urine is associated with increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and liver-enzyme abnormanlities". Bisphenol A has also been accused for mimiching human hormones (especially estrogens) causing endocrine disorders and is associated with low sperm quantity and prostate cancer.
Many studies and significant amount of research is still required in order to acquire solid answers concerning that issue. However, based on my personal experience from the use of base oils and essential oils, I would be very skeptical regarding the use of plastic containers, especially baby bottles. As an aromatherapist, I have noticed that plastic jars containing base oil develop significant leakage, after of course some months of storage. Also, the directions for essential oil storage recommend the use of glass bottles - preferably of dark color - in order to keep the oil safe from light and plastic element effects. But even as a plain consumer, I have read that cooking olive oil should be stored, especially for longer periods, in glass or stainless steel containers. Moreover, what really made me think and urged me to limit the use of plastic containers, for my aromatherapy practice and for food or beverage storage, is the manual of my new dishwasher, which mentions that it should preferably not be used to wash utensils with heat sensitive plastic parts. The only reason I can think of for this restriction is plastic decay caused by the high temperature developed in the dishwasher.
It is easy to check whether plastic containers you are using contain bisphenol A. In all plastic packaging applications the raw material class is mentioned. If a plastic container is marked with one of the following symbols, there are many chances that it contains the controversial chemical substance.
I am not a chemist and I certainly do not know how liquids stored in a baby bottle or any other plastic container, as well as developed temperatures could affect their manufacturing material. However, I would rather join the most reserved ones, with the hope that I am ensuring a healthier life for myself and people who trust me.
Sources: BBC, Wikipedia, JAMA
Find out more about bisphenol A and why it has been linked to very serious diseases in the book Phthalates and Bisphenol: A in Plastics and Possible Human Health Effects (Environmental Health Physical, Chemical and Biological Factors Series), which is presenting all new research related to the adverse effects of that substance to human health, even at low doses of exposure.
For your infant always use glass baby bottles and glass food storage containers with no dangerous chemical substances.
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