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Products that contain bisphenol-a

Bisphenol-a or BPA is a monomer for polycarbonate plastic. It chemically reacts with other liquid chemicals (monomers) to produce molecules of polycarbonate or epoxies (solid polymers). This has been revised from my previous post after receiving Kevin’s kind update below. Unfortunately recent studies have shown that when plastic containers with BPA are heated or chilled, a significant amount of the chemical can leak into the contents of the container. Furthermore, studies have linked BPA to health problems ranging from from cancer to infertility and obesity.

So knowing all these things about BPA’s, what’s the best course of action? Throw away (um, recycle) all your plastic containers? As it turns out, manufacturers are already marking plastics containing BPA with specific recycling symbols. The chart below shows which of these recyclable plastic types are likely to contain BPA:

Symbol Plastics type Common use Contains BPA?
PET Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE) Water bottles including most of those 16-20oz water bottles you can buy in bulk.Most 16-20oz & 2 liter plastic soda bottles No
HDPE High-Density Polyethylene Milk, detergent & oil bottles. toys and plastic bags No
PVC Vinyl/Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Some food wrap, vegetable oil bottles, blister packages, some water pipes, linings of some cans (sometimes pet food cans). Yes
LDPE Low-Density Polyethylene Shrink wrap, dry-cleaning bags No
PP Polypropylene Refrigerated containers, some bags, most bottle tops No
PS Polystyrene Throwaway utensils, Styrofoam cups, meat packaging, protective packing No
7-19 Layered mixed plastics Acrylics, polycarbonates (drinking bottles), polylactic acid (bio degradeable plastic containers), nylon and fiberglass Yes

So there you have it. All the information to let you make an informed decision on what to chuck into the recycling bin.

August 28, 2007

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8 comments found

Comments for: Products that contain bisphenol-a

  1. Kevin

    The description of bisphenol-A as an additive to prevent oxidation and staining is not correct. Bisphenol-A is a monomer for polycarbonate plastic. It chemically reacts with other liquid chemicals (monomers) to produce molecules of polycarbonate or epoxies (solid polymers). After reaction, the bisphenol-A is incorporated into the polymer molecules and is no longer toxic. It is an integral raw material for these plastics. Of course, there is a chance that some of the Bisphenol-A will remain unreacted and this can leach out and be a danger. Also, there is no bisphenol-A in polystyrene. In this case, styrene liquid is polymerized to form solid polystyrene plastic.

  2. carol

    Great information, but I am very confused. I bought a hard plastic (with #7 in the triangle) from Whole Foods. It is polycarbonate plastic. So, it is potentially dangerous? Yet, I buy spring water (Glacier Mist) with a #1 in the triangle – it’s soft plastic – and it is safe?

  3. Post author: 
    David Vielmetter

    First off, let me say that I am no expert in the field by any means. I researched this subject because I was curious. According to my research, the plastic water bottles are usually PETE (1) type plastic which is not likely to contain BPA. Polycarbonates indicated by the #7 symbol, however do often times contain BPA according to my research.

    Hope that helps carol…

  4. Post author: 
    David Vielmetter

    UPDATE: Walmart announces it will no longer sell products containing BPA’s. Nalgene has indicated it will stop using BPA’s…I guess someone is listening.

  5. Tiger

    Journal Sentinel tests show that all the plastic numbers put very dangerous amounts of BPA into foods. This false info that 1,2. and 5 have no BPA is completely untrue.

    BPA is leached into foods and beverages of all the different plastic types. In fact there was a major newspaper investigation which found extremely dangerous levels of BPA leached into the foods of microwavable meals cooked in Nos.?1, 2 and 5 plastic trays contrary to the false information in this article. According to the results of their extensive testing it didn’t matter what type of plastic the tray was made of it leached huge amounts of BPA into the cooked food. If you buy the no 1 distilled water from walmart and keep the container from getting warm and pour it into glass bottles(I save high quality vodka and other bottles that are convenient sized) you can reduce bpa exposure but the best way is to get your own distiller that has no plastic or lead etc and go straight to glass. NO PLASTIC IS TRULY SAFE. and absolutely no jarred foods all the lids contain bpa(consider getting your own canning system which puts fresh fruits and veges into glass mason jars).http://www.jsonline.com/watchdog/watchdogreports/34532034.html

  6. Sue

    Thank you for posting this information, but what about phthalates (which includes part of the name of recyclable # 1 PET), which are also endocrine disruptors? And if these companies claim to be phasing out BPA, what will they replace it with, something just as bad that will take scientists several years to study before we know it? And the FDA has no authority to find out what products include BPA! There is no regulation of the chemical, so it’s best to just reduce your exposure to cans and plastics. Try to eat as much real, ie non-processed, food as possible. And did you know (I was shocked to hear) that cash register receipts are loaded with BPA, so try to avoid handling them, and wash your hands afterwards. And remember that wherever you keep the receipts will retain the residue – pockets, checkbook, purse, etc). See this article as well as many others on BPA written by the scientist who initially studied BPA and rose the concern:

    1. Post author: 
      David Vielmetter


      Yes, it’s true that there are likely still BPA “like” additives in lots of products we consume and purchase, especially packaging. Truth be told, there really isn’t a way to know which ones they are and/or what to avoid. Eating fresh foods instead of processed and packaged products is always a good rule of thumb that’ll likely extend your life. In the end though, life is pretty finite and there are lots of chemicals in consumer products that are known to cause cancer. So even if BPA’s weren’t such a big part of our lives, cancer would still be big killer of people.

      My advice is to live life and enjoy it. Make small changes that jive with your beliefs and what you think is good for you and your loved ones, but don’t go crazy with avoiding something you’ve read horror stories about on the Interwebs.

      I try not to eat processed food, but I’m not about to make my own condiments, bake bread or grow veggies because there might be some contamination in the packaging.


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