Apr 182008

Bisphenol-A, a chem­ic­al found in many of those hard plastic water bottles (look for polycar­bon­ates with the recyc­ling num­ber 7, although not all of those have BPA in them) has been in the news recently, cul­min­at­ing in today’s announce­ment of a ban of baby bottles con­tain­ing BPA by Health Canada. This con­tin­ues a trend from a US Nation­al Tox­ic­o­logy Pro­gram report that expressed con­cern, although it stopped short of call­ing BPA dan­ger­ous. Since, like many house­holds, we have quite a few of these bottles around, and since the chem­ic­al is sup­posed to be par­tic­u­larly dan­ger­ous to infants, I figured I should see which of the many plastic bottles and baby bottles we have might be safe. The polycar­bon­ate bottles are deservedly pop­ular; they don’t have the “plastic” taste that bottles made of #5 plastics do (although those are said to be com­pletely safe since they don’t leach), and they are unbreak­able, unlike glass.

Look­ing at vari­ous manufacturer’s web sites shows you who’s pre­pared and who’s stick­ing their heads in the sand hop­ing it will all blow over. In the pre­pared cat­egory, Rub­ber­maid gets full marks for hav­ing a clear page list­ing all the products with and without BPA. Nal­gene (made fam­ous in Van­couver when MEC, a major loc­al store took all the bottles off its shelves because of BPA) states they’re phas­ing out BPA and prom­ises to have new non-BPA products using trit­an instead of polycar­bon­ate in the stores start­ing next month. I don’t have any of their bottles, but I know a lot of people do. Camel­bak points out on their web site’s front page that not all #7 plastics con­tain BPA (true), but ignores the fact that there’s no way a con­sumer can tell which ones do. They’re also intro­du­cing a line that uses non-BPA trit­an. I gave a friend one of the Camel­bak bottles for Christ­mas and will replace it once the trit­an ver­sions come out.

In the middle, since they don’t use BPA, but don’t tell people that on the web site are Medela, who make vari­ous breast­feed­ing pumps and accessor­ies, includ­ing bottles. The Brita water fil­ter com­pany has a hor­rible flash web site with no search but­ton any­where. The pitch­er doesn’t look to me like it’s made out of polycar­bon­ate and that was con­firmed from this post. It would make sense for Brita to add that inform­a­tion to their FAQ.

On the unpre­pared side, Ger­ber loses points for not even men­tion­ing the issue any­where on their site; the baby bottles I have from them are num­ber 7 and oth­er sources say they have BPA, so out they go. Tom­mee Tip­pee (a U.K. brand for baby bottles ad sipyy cups) has a page from Janu­ary 2007 in which they say BPA is per­fectly safe and that they use it in some products, without men­tion­ing which, so I’m not sure what to do about the ages-old hard plastic sippy cup I have from them. It isn’t polycar­bon­ate, but does it have BPA in it? No idea. Avent is another baby bottle man­u­fac­turer that admits they use BPA and say it’s safe. Tom­mee Tip­pee isn’t avail­able in Canada any­way, but I guess the oth­er two are going to have some prob­lems in the next little while, as are the retail­ers that stock them.

There are lots of blogs out there with list­ings of products that have or do not have BPA (e.g., this one). As with many health issues it’s hard to know how to far to go without going over­board, par­tic­u­larly with vari­ous health admin­is­tra­tions seem­ingly dif­fer­ing in their views of what the risk really is. I find it iron­ic, how­ever, that the man­u­fac­tur­ers of products mostly used by adults, where the risk is smal­ler, seem to be more respons­ive than those of products used by the infants who are most sus­cept­ible.

  9 Responses to “BPA — Who’s Prepared?”

  1. I believe that Brita pitch­ers do not con­tain BPA. But another issue regard­ing Brita is their plastic fil­ter cart­ridges are not recyc­lable, filling up our land­fills and pol­lut­ing our plan­et.

    The Brita Com­pany in Europe has cre­ated a take-back recyc­ling pro­gram for their fil­ters. But the Brita Com­pany in North Amer­ica is owned by Clorox, and they do not have such a pro­gram.

    Please sign our peti­tion at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/recycle-used-brita-water-filter-cartridges.html to urge Clorox to take respons­ib­il­ity for its plastic waste as is already being done in Europe. 

    For more info, please vis­it our site at http://www.takebackthefilter.org

    Spread the word!

  2. Not all plastics labeled #7 have BPA in them — it’s sort of a catch-all “oth­er plastics” cat­egory. But there’s little way to tell oth­er than that, alas.

    I would def­in­itely ditch the kids’ bottles and cups — of course, our chil­dren are older so it’s already too late for any of their young expos­ure to BPA — but I wouldn’t per­son­ally be too freaked out about adult-use water bottles and the like, espe­cially if you use them with cold rather than hot liquids and keep the bever­ages in them fresh.

    Of course, I already *have* can­cer, so I may be a little more blase about this than oth­ers. 🙂

  3. It seems that Brita has added a note on the main Flash page that its products do not con­tain BPA. I don’t know if it’s a recent change. It’s also not clear wheth­er they have ever had BPA..

    I agree with Beth that there should be a recycle pro­gram. A few years ago, Home Hard­ware here in Canada did take back the Brita fil­ters, but they don’t any more. I don’t know where they went when they did run the pro­gram (may­be they sent them to Europe).

  4. I got this email from Deer Par. Their 3 and 5-gal bottles con­tain BPA:
    April 25, 2008 

    Dear xxx,

    Thank you for tak­ing the time to con­tact Deer Park® Brand Nat­ur­al Spring Water regard­ing BPA. We wel­come ques­tions and com­ments from loy­al con­sumers and appre­ci­ate this oppor­tun­ity to assist you.

    Recently, the US Nation­al Tox­ic­o­logy Pro­gram issued a draft brief on the pos­sible health effects of BPA (a chem­ic­al that is used in small quant­it­ies to make polycar­bon­ate plastics and epoxy res­ins), which expressed some con­cern for neur­al and beha­vi­or­al effects. This eval­u­ation was based solely on anim­al stud­ies that stated that more research is needed. 

    The use of polycar­bon­ate plastic and epoxy res­ins in food pack­aging, includ­ing those made with BPA, has been and con­tin­ues to be recog­nized as safe by the US Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion.

    For more inform­a­tion, please vis­it The Nation­al Insti­tute of Health and Sci­ences web­site at http://www.niehs.nih.gov/

    Our clear plastic water bottles are made of #1 PETE = poly­ethyl­ene tere­ph­thal­ate. Our white (opaque) water bottles are made of #2 HDPE = high dens­ity poly­ethyl­ene. Neither of these types of plastic con­tains BPA. Our 3 and 5 gal­lon reusable bottles used for Home Deliv­ery are made of #7 polycar­bon­ate plastic. 

    We would like to assure you that we have repor­ted your com­ments to our Mar­ket­ing depart­ment. We are com­mit­ted to provid­ing you with products that live up to your high stand­ards for taste, qual­ity, nutri­tion and enjoy­ment — in short, “the very best.”

    We appre­ci­ate your interest in our products and hope you will vis­it our web­site often for the latest inform­a­tion on our products and pro­mo­tions.


    Kelly Henry
    Con­sumer Respon­se Rep­res­ent­at­ive

  5. You’re not out of the woods with your drink­ing bottles and sippy cups — BPA is in the lin­ings of food and soda cans, and in many oth­er kinds of plastics.

    I’ve got sleep apnea and the top of my humid­i­fi­er (which gets to may­be 140 degrees F.) is made of polycar­bon­ate — what’s the danger of inhal­ing BPA? Has any­one looked? Prob­ably not.

    BPA is prob­lem­at­ic because it acts as an estro­gen in the body. No telling how much bad stuff springs from this long-term low-level expos­ure.

  6. Dave: you’re right of course, that lots of things have BPA in them. At this stage, I’m doing what I can to min­im­ise expos­ure and hop­ing that’s suf­fi­cient. I expect that over time BPA will be replaced by oth­er things; in the mean­time lim­it­ing the amount of canned foods and drinks works for me as we don’t eat a lot of canned foods any­way (I prefer frozen veget­ables, for example).

  7. There was a com­ment from Joy, that I deleted acci­dent­ally, with the con­tent
    “Be advised the 3 gal­lon reusable bottles that come with the Brita plug in water cool­ers are a #7 plastic. I have con­tac­ted them sev­er­al times and all they say is that the plastic bottles are safe. Any­one know of an altern­ate replace­ment for these bottles?”

  8. Yes! I know great replace­ments for #7 3 or 5 gal­lon water bottles. They’re called Better-Bottle. They are recycle #1 PET plastics and very safe and dur­able.

  9. Check out my site for more info on where to buy a BPA free 5 gal­lon water bottle

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