The National Toxicology Program, an arm of the federal National Institutes of Health, has amplified concern about Bisphenol A, the plastic ingredient that some independent scientists have long criticized.
The new report states that there is "'some concern' that fetuses, babies and children were in danger because bisphenol A, or BPA, harmed animals at low levels found in nearly all human bodies," as the Los Angles Times put it.
Bisphenol A can mimic estrogen and in animal studies it affects the development of the brain and reproductive organs. The program said children may also be at risk.
The chemical is ubiquitous, and can be found not only in plastics (including baby bottles) but also the lining of cans and other common products, and, indeed, in the bodies of humans. "Body burden" studies have consistently found that Americans have Bisphenol A in our systems.
The report marks a shift for the U.S. government, which until now had stated that the chemical is safe for use despite criticism that it relied to heavily on biased industry studies to reach its conclusions. It also comes on the heels of a report in Canada that could set the stage for the world's first restrictions on the use of the chemical.
So how do you know which plastics might contain bisphenol A? Most will contain the recycling code number 7, which is for miscellaneous. You'll find it in baby bottles, yes (the hard plastic ones generally), as well as three- and five-gallon water bottles, 'bullet-proof' materials and certain food containers. Note that not all number 7s are polycarbonate (some are even made of plant-based polyactide, which is compostable).
What do to instead? Consider shatter-resistant glass or other plastics (such as number 1s).
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