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17 posts categorized "Bisphenol A (BPA)"


Hold the estrogen—leave your receipt

By David Wallinga, Senior Advisor on Science, Food and Health at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

IStock_000008207144XSmallYou’ve probably heard about the hormone-disrupting chemical, BPA, put into food can liners. Eden Foods, a maker of canned beans, tomatoes and other products, gave BPA the boot long ago.

Campbell’s Soup, among other companies, has announced it will phase BPA out of cans, but without disclosing when, or what alternative(s) will replace it.

In fact, food is a major route of exposure to all sorts of chemicals like BPA. Just not the only route. It turns out BPA also is part of that that filmy coating on ATM and other receipts. Known as thermal receipt paper, it’s widely used in cash registers, for airline tickets, even in adhesive labels on grocery deli foods.

An estrogen-coated receipt in your purse? Big yuck. Even worse, new science suggests BPA can be absorbed through the skin. As usual, we know there are alternatives. The EPA’s Design for the Environment Program just released a draft report on 19 chemical alternatives to BPA for use in developing thermal paper.

EPA is welcoming comments through October 12, 2012



What you need to know about “BPA-Free”

By Kathleen Schuler, Senior Policy Analyst at IATP and Healthy Legacy Co-Director

Water bottleEven after many plastic manufacturers have phased out the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in their products, the possibility of other hormone-disrupting chemicals in plastic continues to be a concern. NPR recently reported on a dispute between Eastman Chemical, which makes Tritan, a BPA-free chemical used to make some water bottles, and two companies that test for plastic safety

By now most people are familiar with bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical component of polycarbonate plastic. BPA is a problem because it leaches out of the plastic and into the food or beverage contained within. The chemical is also linked to numerous health problems.  BPA is a hormone disrupter, which means that it interferes with the delicate hormone balance in the human body. Exposure to BPA is associated with increased risk of cancer, reproductive problems and even diabetes.

But BPA is not the only chemical that can be released from plastics under the right conditions and it’s also not the only chemical in plastics that is hormonally active. The study at issue here was authored by Dr. Chun Yang and colleagues (Dr. George Bittner is a co-author on the study and was quoted in the NPR story) and found chemicals with estrogenic activity in a wide variety of plastic products they tested.  

Their study found that hundreds of plastic food and beverage containers (including baby bottles, water bottles, deli containers, food wrap and more) leached detectable amounts of chemicals having estrogenic activity (EA), including products labeled “BPA-free,” when exposed to sunlight, boiling water or microwaving. EA means that the chemical can interact with estrogen receptors in the human body. Like BPA, other EAs are associated with an array of health problems, such as early puberty in females, reduced sperm counts, obesity, altered behaviors and reproductive cancers.  

Eastman-Tritan now labels their water bottles as not only “BPA-free,” but “EA free” as well.

Comprehensive, independent, third-party laboratories using well-recognized methods have confirmed that Tritan does not contain estrogenic activity (EA) and androgenic activity (AA). Eastman is confident in these test results despite recent false and misleading statements about Tritan made by PlastiPure, Inc. and its sister company CertiChem, Inc. These companies rely on the results from a screening test (called the MCF-7 test), which is known in the scientific community to be a non-definitive, non-final test for EA.

I’m not in a position to question the credibility of Tritan’s claims or of the testing methods used in the Yang study, but the controversy brings to light some important take home messages for consumers, citizens and policymakers.


While it might be hard to interpret what’s behind the labels, whether it’s “BPA free” or “EA free,” you can follow a few precautionary guidelines for safe use of plastics, including:

  1. At minimum purchase BPA-free plastics or consider alternatives to plastic such as stainless steel or glass.
  2. Don’t microwave anything in plastic.
  3. Avoid using plastic containers for hot food and beverages. If you do, cool the contents first. 
  4. Keep plastic containers away from sunlight. If you plan to be in the sun, consider using a stainless steel or glass water bottle.
  5. Discard old and scratched plastic containers that can experience increased chemical leaching. 

For more helpful tips on how to avoid problem plastics, check out our Smart Plastics Guide.

Policymakers and citizens:  

We must ensure that all consumer plastic products are free of all chemicals that disrupt hormones. Please support policies that protect public health from hormone disrupting chemicals, for example:

  1. Restrict uses of BPA in food can linings, an important source of BPA exposure especially affecting pregnant women and young children.
  2. Ask the U.S. Senate to pass the Safe Chemicals Act to reform our outdated chemical regulatory system and require safety testing for all chemicals before they are used in products.

Sign up to hear from Healthy Legacy and Healthy Food Action on how to advocate for policies that protect our products and our food system from EAs and other harmful chemicals. 

Photo courtesy of sielju on flickr


Honesty is the best policy: BPA-free doesn’t always = toxic-free

Canned food_flickr_istorijaJust a few short years ago BPA, a chemical relatively unknown to the general public, was used in a plethora of consumer products: from baby bottles to receipt paper to food can linings and more. As we’ve worked to educate the public about the health concerns related to BPA: breast and prostate cancer, diabetes, obesity and reproductive harm, to name a few, the call to phase this harmful chemical out of everyday products has grown to a roar.

We’re proud of that success! Thanks to consumer pressure, several state laws have been enacted to ban BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups and many companies have taken action of their own accord. Some canned food manufacturers, like Campbell’s, are transitioning away from using BPA in can linings. Unfortunately phasing out this one problem chemical isn’t enough, since the laws that are meant to regulate toxics in the United States are woefully inadequate. This is especially true for the chemicals in our food packaging. Because the FDA’s system for evaluating and approving chemicals in food packaging is so out of date, toxic chemicals like formaldehyde and phthalates are perfectly legal to use in food.

The campaign to get BPA out of canned food is not just about BPA (though of course it’s a chemical we’re very concerned about). While we need to focus on harmful individual chemicals, we also need to start asking more of our manufacturers. We need to ensure that the foods and products all of us come into contact with on a daily basis are truly safe. To reach that goal, companies like Campbell’s need be open and honest about their timeline to phase BPA out of cans. They also need to disclose what alternative chemical they will use in its place and the process they used to determine that chemical was safe.

Eden Foods is a great example of a company that has led the way in not only phasing BPA out of food cans, but also in being transparent with consumers about what they use in its place. Their website has in-depth information both about the alternatives they use and why they made the decision to go BPA-free. This is the high bar of honesty that consumers want and expect from the brands they trust.

Soon, we’ll be sharing an opportunity for you to get involved with this issue—so please stay tuned! In the meantime, learn more about how to avoid BPA and other toxic chemicals in canned food.

Photo from istorija on flickr.



New Study Finds Toxic Chemicals in Gardening Products

By Kim LaBo, Healthy Legacy Organizer at Clean Water Action Minnesota.

Chemicals in Hoses Leach into Water, Study Finds

image from salsa.democracyinaction.orgHigh amounts of lead, phthalates and bisphenol-A (BPA ) were found in the water of a new hose after sitting outside in the sun for just a few days, according to a report co-released today by the Minnesota based Healthy Legacy Coalition and Healthy Stuff. Results are available online today at

Nearly 200 hoses, gloves, kneeling pads and tools were tested for lead, cadmium, bromine (associated with brominated flame retardants); chlorine (indicating the presence of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC); phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA).  Such chemicals have been linked to birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, premature births and early puberty in laboratory animals, among other serious health problems. 

“During the summer, many children drink from garden hoses, run through sprinklers and wade in kiddie pools that contain water contaminated with toxic chemicals,” stated Deanna White, Clean Water Action state director and Healthy Legacy Coalition co-director. “Children’s health is being put at risk yet again because current laws do not ensure products are safe.” 

Testing Highlights

  1. screened 179 common garden products, including garden hoses (90); garden gloves (53); kneeling pads (13) and garden tools (23). Two-thirds (70.4%) of these products had chemical levels of “high concern.”
  2. 30% of all products contained over 100 ppm lead in one or more component.  100 ppm is the Consumer Product Safety Commission Standard (CPSC) for lead in children’ products.
  3. 100% of the garden hoses sampled for phthalates contained four phthalate plasticizers which are currently banned in children’s products.
  4. Two water hoses contained the hazardous flame retardant 2,3,4,5-tetrabromo-bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (TBPH).

Harmful Chemicals End Up in Water

  1. Water sampled from one hose contained 0.280 mg/l (ppm) lead.  This is 18-times higher than the federal drinking water standard of 0.015 mg/l. 
  2. BPA levels of 2.3 ppm were found in the hose water.  This level is 20-times higher than the 0.100 ppm safe drinking water level used by NSF to verify that consumers are not being exposed to levels of a chemical that exceed regulated levels. 
  3. The phthalate DEHP was found at 0.025 ppm in the hose water. This level is 4-times higher than federal drinking water standards.  EPA and FDA regulate DEHP in water at 0.006 mg/l (ppm).

What You Can Do

  1. Read the labels: Avoid hoses with a California Prop 65 warning that says “this product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects and other reproductive harm.”  Buy hoses that are “drinking water safe” and “lead-free”.
  2. Let it run: Always let your hose run for a few seconds before using, since the water that’s been sitting in the hose will have the highest levels of chemicals.
  3. Avoid the sun: Store your hose in the shade. The heat from the sun can increase the leaching of chemicals from the PVC into the water.
  4. Don't drink water from a hose: Unless you know for sure that your hose is drinking water safe, don’t drink from it.  Even low levels of lead may cause health problems.
  5. Buy a PVC-free hose: Polyurethane or natural rubber hoses are better choices.  Visit for sample products.
  6. Support passage of the Safe Chemicals Act: Harmful chemicals are ending up in consumer products because the Toxic Substances Control Act, passed into law over 35 years ago, is outdated and ineffective.

“Even if you are an organic gardener, doing everything you can to avoid pesticides and fertilizers, you still may be introducing hazardous substances into your soil by using these products,” said Jeff Gearhart, Research Director at the Ecology Center.


FDA misses the mark on BPA

Messy soup_Tom & Katrien_flickrToday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made a decision about the hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol A (BPA) and its use in food packaging. Their decision affects everyone’s health and our right to be protected from exposure to harmful chemicals in our food, our homes and our environment. The agency ruled that it will not limit the use of BPA in food packaging products.

Photo credit: Tom & Katrien on Flickr

The BPA backstory

I won’t go into a full history of the problems with BPA, because our colleagues at Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families have put together a great introduction to the chemical. But I do want to talk about why we are concerned that it is being used in an essentially unregulated manner and in a broad range of products—from the linings of food cans to thermal receipt paper to amalgam dental fillings. An ever-growing body of science continues to find links between the chemical and several harmful health effects, including: diabetes, obesity, breast and prostate cancer.

Several studies were released in 2011 related to the presence of BPA in our food. One study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that eliminating canned and pre-packaged foods from the diet of study participants over a three-day period reduced levels of the chemical in their urine by an average of 60 percent. Another study from The Journal of the American Medical Association found that eating a canned food item once a day can increase levels of BPA up to 1,200 percent. And finally, testing conducted by the Breast Cancer Fund (here and here) revealed that BPA is found in canned foods. Levels of the chemical in each food varied, but in some a single serving contained levels that have been linked with adverse health effects in lab studies.

Current state of affairs: a badly broken system

Several states have taken action in recent years on BPA in everyday products, including Minnesota—the first state in the nation to ban use of the chemical in baby bottles and sippy cups. But why are states compelled to take action on this matter to begin with?

The need for state level action to protect public health stems from the badly broken systems that are meant to keep harmful chemicals off the market, but in fact fail miserably at doing so.

In the case of bisphenol A in food packaging, regulatory authority falls to the U.S. FDA. Today’s decision is the result of a multi-year battle between the agency and NRDC. More than three years ago, NRDC petition the FDA to ban the use of bisphenol A as a food additive. Because the agency did not respond within a reasonable time frame, NRDC mounted a legal action which resulted in a settlement requiring the FDA to render a decision by March 31, 2012. You can read a full account of the process on the NRDC Switchboard Blog.

This delay in and of itself is emblematic of our broken system: even in the face of mounting evidence on the problems associated with BPA, it took the FDA more than three years and a court case to make a ruling on BPA. We need a change: we need policy that protects our health before corporate profits.

The problem of harmful chemicals contaminating our food is only one piece of the puzzle. Problem chemicals are also ending up in our environment and our bodies through exposures to everyday consumer products and chemicals in our environment. Contrary to popular belief, chemicals are not proven safe before they are used in the production of our everyday products. The result? There is no comprehensive oversight of chemicals in the U.S. and we don’t have an adequate system for identifying which chemicals are safe and which ones are harmful.

Get involved!

Given the sad state of policy at the federal level, states will continue to play a key role in protecting the health of our people. But we also need to demand action where our agencies have failed us. Healthy Legacy is a Minnesota-based coalition, co-founded by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, working to phase the use of toxic chemicals out of everyday products. Sign-up now to receive action alerts and to keep up to date with our work.


Quick dinner, hold the BPA!

IIStock_000003484852XSmallt’s already challenging for families to prepare meals at home—with busy schedules, after school activities, long work hours and more, carving out time to not only eat together but also to cook from scratch is a tough task for many of us. So we sometimes turn to ready-made food, right? I know I do.

Unfortunately, sometimes subbing in pre-made meals can affect your exposure to the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), a hormone disrupter linked with certain cancers, diabetes and obesity. As if we haven’t already got enough to worry about! So this week’s tip is all about helping you through those times when you need a quick meal, but don’t want to end up with a hefty dose of BPA on the side.

Tip: If you’re short on time and need to fix dinner quick, we recommend opting for frozen pre-made meals instead of those in the can. Canned all-in-one meals have some of the highest levels of BPA of any canned foods. But before you microwave, make sure you pop the food out of the plastic tray and onto a plate. Here’s a video showing how to heat and eat without the plastic.

Of course, these tips are meant to help you make safer choices, but the truth is that we shouldn’t have to constantly studying up on the latest problem chemical to make its way into our products. You can act now and ask the FDA to rule bisphenol A unsafe for use in food packaging.



Everyday Products contain chemicals linked to hormone disruption and asthma

 By Kathleen Schuler, MPH, Co-Director Healthy Legacy and Senior Policy Analyst at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

image from

Yet another study has found dangerous chemicals in products we and our children use every day. A peer-reviewed study, published last week in Environmental Health Perspectives, detailed testing by the Silent Spring Institute of 213 consumer products, including cleaning products, cosmetics, sunscreens, air fresheners, shower curtains and more, to detect the presence of harmful chemicals. 

 Previous studies have found a variety of harmful chemicals in household dust. The current study helps to identify some of the potential sources of the chemicals showing up there. Unfortunately, incomplete labeling makes this research more difficult. The study found that many of the chemicals detected were not on the product label. 

Researchers found 55 compounds, including the following and many more:

  1. Phthalates in perfumes, car air fresheners, vinyl pillow protectors and shower curtains, dryer sheets, car wax and interior cleaners, tub and tile cleaner, bar soap, shaving cream and lipstick- all unlabeled!
  2. Bisphenol A in vinyl pillow protectors and shower curtains, dish and laundry detergent, tub and tile cleaner, soaps, lotions, shampoo, conditioner and sunscreen - all unlabeled!
  3. Synthetic fragrances in facial cleansers, floor cleaner, sunscreen, perfume, dryer sheets, home and car air fresheners- in 12 of 34 products unlabeled!

Even if consumers read the label, they can’t avoid these “hidden” chemicals.  Consumers need better labeling so they can make safer product choices. But we also need to take steps to remove these harmful chemicals from every day consumer products.

Take action!

This study found unlabeled phthalates and bisphenol A in a variety of products. Both of these chemicals are on the Minnesota Priority Chemicals list, which identifies harmful chemicals that children are most likely to be exposed to. That’s why we need to pass HF2543/SF1766, which requires manufacturers to report if they have a product containing a “priority chemical.” This information will help us inform parents about which products to avoid.

Write to your state senator and representative today, asking them to support the Priority Chemical Reporting Bill!



Companies report use of toxic chemicals in products

Overlay-poison-bgA new report out from the Environmental Health Strategy Center, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, and SAFER States shares information about the use of two chemicals, bisphenol A (BPA) and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) in household products.

The information was obtained through reporting required on these chemicals under the 2008 Kids Safe Products Act.

Major findings:

  1. 280 plastic toys sold in Maine contained BPA, a hormone-disrupting chemical that is linked to several harmful health effects, including: breast and prostate cancer, early onset puberty, reproductive harm, diabetes and obesity.
  2. NPEs were reported in 291 household paints and at least 69 other products, like cleaners, wood stains, and caulking. NPEs are also hormone disrupters and have been linked with reproductive damage.
  3. Some companies may not be reporting as required under the Maine law. Several companies that manufacture baby food did not report BPA in food packaging, although the chemical continues to be used in the lids of baby food jars.
  4. Safer alternatives are gaining traction. Three manufacturers of infant formula reported that they have phased out the use of BPA in the lining of metal cans containing formula.

Perhaps one of the most significant conclusions of the report is that state chemical policy is a proven and effective tool and has successfully begun to fill data gaps on the use of chemicals of concern in products.

But there is more to be done. This report also shows us once again that our federal system for regulating chemicals is badly broken. Is that something you want to change? You can take action now by sending a holiday card to congress!



Who invited BPA to Thanksgiving Dinner?

Jerad_MCCBy Jerad Morey, Minnesota Council of Churches

Thanksgiving is a time to pause and reflect. What blessings have you received this year? What do you have to be grateful for? Pastors often ask parishioners to think with joy upon what God has done in their lives as they look around a table of gathered generations of friends and family.

While we may be blessed with health, food, friends and family, how are we treating these blessings? We believe that through sharing table and food we are building and strengthening our community and expressing our gratitude for life. But have food manufacturers tainted our thanks?

According to today’s report, "BPA in Thanksgiving Canned Food", those of us who use canned green beans, pumpkin, or other popular canned Thanksgiving products to express gratitude or to celebrate abundance may actually be giving a toxic gift to ourselves and those we love. These canned foods contain high levels of BPA, a hormone disruptor linked to early puberty, obesity and cancer. It is especially dangerous in the bodies of infants, children and pregnant women.

We couldn’t have been expected to know about the accidental chemicals we were feeding the ones we loved most! The groceries tested in this report don’t sit on a shelf next to warning labels saying “Contains BPA.”  We won’t find “hormone disruptors” in the nutrition information label. Thankfully, this report can help us prepare a meal that truly expresses joy for our family and friends without stuffing them full of artificial toxins.

This Thanksgiving, make sure your table centerpiece is a horn-a-plenty filled with blessings, not a cornucopia of carcinogens. Read the report. Shop accordingly. And let canned food manufacturers know that your holiday wish is for BPA-free food. Next year safer food might be one more blessing you can be thankful for.


Editor's note: This blog previously mentioned that canned cranberries may contain BPA. We want to clarify that the testing results in the new Breast Cancer Fund report found that OceanSpray Jellied Cranberry Sauce had non-detectable levels of BPA.


Ready, Set...Stroller Brigade!

Today, moms and kids across the country are taking to the streets with their strollers and demanding that their senators support the Safe Chemicals Act, a bill introduced by Senator Lautenberg that will reform the broken and outdated Toxic Substances Control Act.

 Comprehensive chemical policy reform will benefit us all, and these Minnesotans are letting us in on just a few of the many reasons we need to get toxic chemicals out of our lives!

Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families will be live all-day on Facebook, dishing out non-toxic living tips and we'll be there to join in the fun. Join us!

You can also track the stroller brigades on twitter by searching #StrollerBrigade.

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