The following is a bit of detour from my normal subjects but as a parent myself I felt it was important to share with folks.About 6 weeks ago a study was released by Environment California Research & Policy Center which identified that Bisphenol A, a developmental, neural, and reproductive toxicant, leaches from clear polycarbonate plastic.That plastic is used commonly in consumer products and by all major brands of clear plastic baby bottles (e.g. Avent, Dr. Brown, EvenFlo, Gerber and Playtex). The EU Food Safety Authority found that babies fed from polycarbonate bottles can consume 13 µg/kg/day which many scientists believe is outside the allowable range.Bisphenol A has been shown to cause diabetes, obiesity and reproductive defects. Most of these effects cannot be measured for 15-30 years and so by the time we know there is a problem it may be too late for many of my child’s generation. What’s scary is that the following behaviors common to raising a baby, increases the leaching of Bisphenol A from the plastic:
- Heating (e.g. microwaving a bottle)
- Repeated Washing (e.g. daily washing of bottles)
- Exposure to Acidic or Basic foods/liquids (e.g. Gerber Baby Food)
My wife and I took steps to investigate this further and then evaluated all products that our baby is exposed to. Below is what we learned. You can decide for yourself if you want to believe this new evidence and take action. We decided to play it safe and switch a number of the products we use with our baby.Steps you can take:
- Look for plastics labeled #1, #2, or #5 in the recycling triangle. Avoid #3 and #7. (e.g. avoid crystal clear bottles/cups by Avent & Dr. Brown and baby food in #7 plastic)
- Look for “PVC-free” on the labels of soft plastic toys and teethers.
- Choose metal feeding utensils and enamel or ceramic plates.
- Use glass to heat food or liquid in the microwave. You should not heat food in plastic containers or on plastic dishware, or heat liquids in plastic baby bottles.
- Glass Baby Bottles (Evenflo 8oz from Radiant Life, BornFree 5oz)
- Drop-ins Bottles (okay since the water is heated safely and plastic is used only once)
- Fogged Plastic Sippy Cups (e.g. Avent Magic Trainer, BornFree Trainer Cups)
What about my Nalgene bottle?You’ll want to avoid polycarbonate (PC) bottles with #7 plastic. Fortunately Nalgene also makes a polyethylene (also known as HDPE) water bottle which is safer. It is a more opaque milky plastic identified by the #2 recycling symbol. Want to learn more?
- Toxic Baby Bottles Study [5MB PDF - Feb 2007]
- SF Chronicle: Replace Bisphenal A or a child’s health? [Jan 2007]
- Yahoo! Answers: Are my bottles going to give my baby cancer? [Mar 2007]
- Smart Plastics Guide [PDF - Oct 2005]
- US Department of Health and Human Services Report on Bisphenal A [Sept 2008]
- Bisphenol A Free Portal
- Old friend and fellow concerned parent, Omar Shahine on the subject with suggested product replacement ideas [Sept 2006]