When you grab a water bottle, you’re probably focused on the refreshing drink inside. However, if you want to enjoy the benefits of hydration safely, it might be time to think about the plastic bottle itself. That’s because some bottles and other plastic containers include a material called bisphenol A, or BPA — an industrial chemical that may have effects on human health.
Here’s what you need to know about BPA exposure, plastic water bottles and alternative solutions to your hydration needs.
Plastic Problems: What is BPA?
Bisphenol A is a chemical used in the production of certain plastics. It has been in use since the 1950s and has been produced by some of the biggest manufacturers worldwide. The global market for BPA-containing products is expected to reach $30.52 billion by 2028.
What is BPA Used For?
In its early days, BPA could be found just about everywhere, from tooth sealants to automobile parts. Today, it’s most commonly found in some types of reusable and single-use plastic water bottles, as well as other plastic food storage containers.
Here are a few places you might find BPA:
- Older baby bottles
- CDs and DVDs
- Sports equipment
Is BPA Considered Safe?
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Government of Canada , BPA is considered safe at the levels included in food containers such as plastic water bottles. However, BPA has also been shown to affect reproductive health in laboratory animals, and in 2012, the FDA banned the use of BPA in plastic baby bottles and sippy cups. Some research has indicated a connection between BPA and increased blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Concern thus has risen over potential BPA exposure from bottled water or the use of other plastic containers.
How Can You Get Exposed to BPA?
The main source of BPA exposure is your diet. People usually come into contact with BPA when small amounts of the chemical leach into food or beverages from a plastic container; that’s especially true if the container is placed in the microwave or left in the hot sun. The use of certain dental sealants or epoxy-lined cans (like those used for some infant formula) can also result in BPA exposure.
How to Check Plastic Containers for BPA
While some health agencies have said that BPA exposure does not pose a risk at the low levels likely to be found in any given product, concerns about the potential for harmful effects over time and after repeated exposure has led many to look more closely at their favorite water bottle or plastic container. Although BPA is used in all sorts of things, not all plastic contains BPA — so it’s important to know how to check your containers for this chemical.
Here are a few ways to check whether your plastic is BPA-free:
- Look for a recycling code. If your plastic container has a triangle symbol with a 3 or 7 inside, BPA may be present. If there is no recycling code, it’s probably safest to assume the container has BPA.
- See if the container is sold as BPA-free. Manufacturers have recognized the concern over BPA and are creating plastic without bisphenol A. Check whether your plastic bottle or container is marketed this way.
- Search for “PC” or “polycarbonate” markings. If your plastic container has these labels, it may contain BPA.
Let’s say you have a plastic water bottle in your home that might contain BPA. Should you get rid of it immediately? The Government of Canada and the FDA do not broadly consider BPA in low levels as harmful to human health. Note, however, that it’s also a best practice not to put any plastic container in the microwave or dishwasher, as heat can cause the material to break down and release BPA or other chemicals into your food and water.
Alternatives to BPA Water Bottles
Whether you’re concerned about BPA exposure or just want to cut down on single-use plastic bottles, it’s important to know that alternatives are available. Here are a few ideas to help you avoid BPA:
Improve Your Water Quality
When your home’s tap water is free of unpleasant odors, tastes and smells, you’ll be less likely to reach for a single-use plastic water bottle. That’s why a first step in avoiding BPA exposure is to choose drinking-water filtration solutions that can address these and other concerns. A water filter system gives you the peace of mind you need to be confident drinking right from your tap — no single-use plastic bottle required.
Choose a BPA-Free Water Bottle
Once your water is filtered, you can start filling reusable bottles at home and taking them with you on the go. Of course, you’ll want to ensure your reusable bottles are BPA-free, so here are a few material alternatives to choose from:
- Stainless steel
- BPA-free plastic
No matter which reusable water bottle material you decide on, make sure there’s no plastic lining inside. These linings may contain BPA, which means you could still be exposed to this chemical if your new bottle gets hot or damaged.
Take Care With Canned Foods
Some foods come in metal containers with linings that include BPA. While you probably don’t want to say goodbye to all of your favorite canned foods, you may want to check for canned items that specifically say the container is BPA-free.
Get Smart About Plastic
If you decide to rely on plastic containers — for example, you probably already have a few you’ve been gifted or already paid for— you should get smart about how to use them safely.
Scratched, dented or otherwise worn plastic containers should be recycled to avoid the risk of chemicals leaching into food or liquids. That means it’s best to check your plastic for wear and tear every time you use it. You should also be gentle with any plastic containers you own, protecting them from heat, harsh scrubbing, highly acidic foods and any other element that could potentially weaken the material.
When your plastic containers do get worn out, remember that you have plenty of safer, more sustainable options. Glass, ceramic or stainless-steel food storage containers are generally easier to clean and less likely to stain, and they typically don’t contain BPA.
Consider a Bottleless Water Dispenser
Another way to cut back on plastic and other containers with BPA is to consider bottleless water dispensers. These systems provide on-demand hot or cold water — and, better yet, there’s no bottle to check for BPA.
Say Goodbye to BPA
Although U.S. and Canadian health authorities have identified BPA exposure as low-risk, many people remain concerned about long-term exposure to this once-ubiquitous–and still widely present–chemical.
The good news is that it’s possible to avoid BPA in simple ways like cutting out single-use plastic bottles. You can also check your reusable plastic containers for signs indicating that they may contain BPA — and, if they do, avoid exposing them to heat.
One comprehensive solution for your household, however, is to improve your home’s water quality with a drinking water filtration system. These systems give you the better-tasting water you want, which means you and your family won’t have to reach for single-use bottle and can instead enjoy a virtually endless supply of water from your own tap. Plus, once your water is filtered, you can get more use out of reusable stainless-steel or glass bottles.
Ready to say goodbye to BPA? Start today by scheduling your free water test and consultation.
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