The organic home: for minimalist living

Is BPA safe? October 01 2017, 0 Comments

A summary of what BPA is and why we are concerned about it in toys and children's products

What is BPA?

BPA is an abbreviation for Bisphenol A. It is a man made synthetic compound.

What is BPA used for?

BPA is generally used to make plastics and some resin materials. BPA plastics have a clear appearance and are cheap, strong and durable.  For this reason they are found in many common consumer goods including water bottles, tupperware, toys, sports equipment and kitchenware. BPA has been in commercial use since 1957 and is now, scarily, one of the highest volumes of chemical produced.

Why is BPA dangerous and controversial?

BPA is considered an Endocrine Disruptor.  This means it can cause disruption of the endocrine, i.e. hormone system which regulates our bodies growth and development, reproduction and fertility and many other essential functions. The UN and WHO first published a report in 2002 highlighting this and subsequently have continued to study the effects of EDCs and strengthened their position according to the data and scientific studies independently conducted.

To quote the World Health Organization on the dangers:

There is emerging evidence for adverse reproductive outcomes (infertility, cancers, malformations) from exposure to EDCs, and there is also mounting evidence for effects of these chemicals on thyroid function, brain function, obesity and metabolism, and insulin and glucose homeostasis.

Global rates of endocrine-related cancers (breast, endometrial, ovarian, prostate, testicular and thyroid) have been increasing over the past 40–50 years.”

Why is BPA especially toxic for children and babies?

The effects of Endocrine Disruptors depend on the amount and the timing of exposure. There is a window deemed ‘sensitive periods for endocrine disruptor action’ by the World Health Organization, when we are most susceptible to the adverse effects of EDCs.  This is during the body’s development i.e when in utero, infancy and during early childhood. EDCs are especially dangerous for pregnant women and growing children because of this. 

In 2008 many retailers voluntarily agreed to remove polycarbonate products from their shelves. BPA has caused ongoing controversy, together with Endocrine Disruptors, with many chemical companies denying their existence.

Is BPA regulated? Is plastic safe?

Or maybe the question should be WHY isn't BPA regulated? It seems that not all plastic is toxic, but without testing we cannot be sure. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ended its authorization of the use of BPA in baby bottles and infant formula packaging, based on market abandonment, not safety. The European Union and Canada have banned BPA use in baby bottles.  Whilst this may seem like a solution unfortunately the regulations and testing are insufficient and the Washington Post found 100% (60/60 teething items bought online and tested) positive for BPA, despite being labelled and marketed as being safe and free from this endocrine disruptor.

In February 2016, France officially stated that it intends to classify BPA as substance of very high concern (SVHC).

Where can I learn more about Endocrine disruptors?


Where can I buy safe, non-toxic and BPA/Endocrine Disruptor free toys?