Next time you check out at the grocery store – you might be getting a little more than you bargained for with your grocery total.
Turns out that thermal receipts may contain up to 1,000 times more BPA’s than the epoxy lining of a tin can – the most common known exposure to this prevalent toxin. Granted – we’re not likely to wad up a receipt and chew it like a piece of gum – but have you ever handed it over to your toddler for entertainment on the way to the car? Yep. Me too.
A receipt taken from a store in the District contained 41 milligrams of the chemical. If the equivalent amount of BPA was ingested by a 155-pound adult, that would exceed EPA’s decades-old safe exposure limit for BPA by 12 times.
Current evidence suggests that low doses of the BPA can cause problem’s with the endocrine system. Additional health concerns are linked to the reproductive problems and cancer.
So… we can’t stop buying groceries… but now that you know…
Here are some tips to stay safe when handling receipts:
- Don’t allow the receipts to be placed next to unwrapped foods.
- Wash your hands after handling receipts – BPA’s can transfer from the paper to your skin. Logic then dictates… from your receipts to whatever you touch with your hands.
- Don’t allow children to play with thermal receipts.
BPA Effects: Why We Need to Take Extra Care with Our Babies
The developing fetus and baby are the most vulnerable to BPA and their toxic effects. Sadly, babies are often exposed to more BPA than any age group, studies have even shown they are highly vulnerable during pregnancy.
“Prenatal exposure, even in very low doses, can cause irreversible damage in an unborn baby’s reproductive organs.” According to Marc Goldstein, M.D, director of the Cornell Institute for Reproductive Medicine. He also states “Fertility rates have been declining for quite some time now, and exposure to synthetic estrogen—especially from the chemicals found in plastic products—can have an adverse effect.”
Although completely eliminating exposure to BPA may not be possible, there is good reason to take every step you can to reduce your babies exposure. The FDA estimates that babies have 12.5 times more BPA exposure than adults, and EWG is concerned that FDA underestimates exposures for many babies.
BPA Effects: Where Are Babies Exposed and How to Reduce Exposure?
- Many parents have replaced their polycarbonate baby bottles, but they may be unaware that BPA contaminates liquid baby formula sold in metal cans. For babies not being breastfed formula may make up 100% of a baby’s diet over her first 6 months of life, choose your baby formula carfully in order to minimize potential exposure to BPA’s.
- Glass and Stainless steel are the safest and most durable option. Some metal water bottles are lined with an epoxy-based enamel coating and could leach BPA, as we’ve seen this with the Sigg scandal. Be extra vigilant.
- If you are a nursing mom be aware of potential exposure in your pumping system, be sure the storage you are using is BPA-free.
- Never microwave baby food or drinks in any plastic containers, heating increases BPA leaching.
- Canned foods are one of the biggest sources of BPA exposure – with so much of the exposure on this topic focusing on plastic containers this fact can get overlooked. BPA’s is used in the epoxy liner of most canned foods, be sure to limit the use of canned goods as much a possible. EWG tested 97 canned foods and found detectable levels of BPA in more than half of the foods. Canned meats, pasta & soups fared the worst in testing. Pregnant women and children should limit their consumption of canned foods to avoid BPA.
More About Plastic:
- With BPA in the headline now for some time, most manufacturers now make BPA-free baby plastic bottles. If you are using plastic, be sure the bottles you are using are BPA free.
- Polycarbonate plastics are rigid, transparent and used for food storage containers and water bottles, among other things. Trace amounts of BPA can migrate from these containers, particularly if used for hot food or liquids.
- Avoid polycarbonate for babies food and drinks. This plastic might be marked with the recycling code #7 or the letters “PC”.
- Wash plastics on the top shelf of your dishwasher or by hand. Avoid using old and scratched plastic bottles.
If you must use plastic:
- Plastics with the recycling labels #1, #2 and #4 on the bottom are better choices because they do not contain BPA
- Soft or cloudy-colored plastic does not contain BPA.
A note about sourcing: A good deal of the information in this piece came from the EWG, I went back and just couldn’t find the exact pages. My sincere apologies for not having direct links and let me know if you stumble on it – I’d love to add it/them.
BPA Effects: What Can You Do To Protect Your Family?
More news on the BPA story.
Check out the: Diva guide to plastics.
Check out the Diva Guide on safer plastic use.
Coming soon in Diva Solutions – how we’re reducing the use of plastic in our home.
Don’t forget the cans – BPA lines most of the canned goods that we consume! More on this coming.
From The Washington Post:
Coca-Cola and Del Monte Caught in Plot to Deceive Moms and Minorities Over Dangers of BPA | Environmental Working Group
I haven’t yet written my post on BPA – it’s coming, in the meantime take a look at this:
If You Are Formula Feeding – How do you choose the safest option for your Baby?
Use these 3 tips to steer you in the right direction.
1. Choose Organic Formula
If there is ever a time to spend the extra money on an organic, pesticide free options – this is it. If you need to use formula – choose organic for the safest option. The trickier part will be finding one. To my knowledge there are only a few of brands on the market: my favorite Nature’s One, Earth’s Best, Similac Organic, and Walmart’s Parent’s Choice Organic.
2. Avoid Ready Made Formula in Cans
A toxic chemical called bisphenol A (BPA) can leach into liquid formula sold in metal cans. Canadian tests show no BPA leaching into powdered formula. The same brands are sold in the U.S., making powdered formula a low-risk for BPA contamination.
Some liquid formulas are sold in plastic, mostly polyethylene and polypropylene which do not contain any BPA. Avoid any plastic containers that are rigid and transparent, marked with “PC”. All liquid formulas sold in metal cans are lined with BPA-epoxy, which has been shown to leach into the product. If you buy formula in metal cans choose the concentrated type which is diluted with water prior to feeding. Avoid ready-to-eat formula in metal cans, which has the highest BPA leaching potential.
3. Select Powdered Formulas
Powdered formulas are the best choice for parents who want to avoid bisphenol A in their baby’s diet. While powdered formula has not been tested for BPA, it is diluted with much more water than liquid formulas which reduces the amount of BPA that the baby consumes in each feeding. Nestlé has made unsubstantiated claims that they don’t use any BPA to line their powdered formula cans. Nestlé, Enfamil and Similac use a mixed metal and cardboard package with less BPA-coating. Second best are Earth’s Best Organic and PBM’s store-brand powdered formulas that use a fully metal can.
4. Soy vs Milk Based Formula
Of course you’ll want to consult your pediatrician, but unless your baby has a sensitivity to milk proteins and requires a soy formula – stay with milk based formulas. The most significant reason to avoid soy unless you have no other options is because soy can mimic the effect of estrogen when consumed in large quantities.
If you do need to use a soy based formula – be sure to use an organic option to be sure you are getting non GMO soy. Soy is one of the largest GMO crops. Given how little we know about the long term effects of consuming GMO foods. We would be wise to avoid experimenting with our infants!
1. Before You Buy – Use What You Have.
Chances are you have a lot of stuff in your closets waiting to be used! I’ve recently broken a habit of buying bulk. One of my challenges has been to use what I have before moving on to greener and better options. Don’t we just get excited and want to go shopping!
Dig around. You’ll be surprised at what you have – using what you have is better than a green acquisition. In the PND pantry we still have 3 boxes of plastic Costco cutlery, 1200 paper napkins, ribbon, gift wrap, moisturizers, conditioners, sunscreens… you get the idea. We’re working on it!
2. Take Care of The Things You Own!
Taking care of your “stuff” values the resources that went into making it! You’ll keep them longer and reducing impact by not having to replace it. Your home, cars, clothing, shoes, toys, etc… will all benefit from being well taken care of. And the environment will thank you, if it’s taken care of it’s less likely to be tossed when you are done with it. It’s more likely that you’ll be able to pass it along to a new home when you’re done with it.
Teaching your children to care for their things will impart values that will last a lifetime.
3. Pick just one area of your life to green!
Wherever you are in your green journey… whether you are just beginning or an ecosavant, pick ONE new area to work on. Once mastered you can add another, another, another… you get the idea. Living a greener, healthier life is a journey that starts with one step.
4. Buy Organic
Start buying organic in a new area of you life.
You may have bought organic food, or this might be new for you. You may buy organic dairy, but haven’t moved into the produce section yet. Pick a new area to explore the benefits of organic.
If you’ve never bought organic cotton or denim, next time you’re shopping keep your eyes and mind open. Ask the stores you shop at. Even if you make a conventional selection, asking the questions will help spread the word that customers care and want to see more options. You may even find organic options in places you don’t expect. This last holiday season I was able to buy organic cotton casual clothing for lil’ Diva at Walmart and Organic PJ’s for both the kids at Costco.
Keep your eyes peeled and ASK!
5. Buy Fair Trade
I buy fair trade chocolate. I figure chocolate is something I don’t NEED. It’s a luxury. I figure, if it’s a luxury I can step up and make sure children aren’t picking the cocoa beans for my chocolate. It’s been fun, I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect fair trade organic fix to my chocolate cravings.
It doesn’t have to be chocolate, you could pick coffee, clothing, bananas, again… sometimes starting in an area of your life that is already a splurge will make it a little easier to spend that little bit extra that fair trade calls for.
You’ll be surprised how it will inspire you!
6. Buy Quality
Can’t find what you are looking for organic or fair trade, buy good quality. It will last and when you’re done you’ll be able to pass it on. As a country we have become accustomed to buying everything in quantity. We can take a page out of the Europeans’ book, attempt to retrain our sense of value. Buy fewer high quality items, moving away from our culture’s more, more, more frame of mind. Look for items that are made in your country too, supporting your own economy.
5. When You’re Done with Something – Pass It On!
When you are done with something, find a new home for it! We had a rug that our dogs had scratched. I listed it on Craigslist with pictures of the damage, within 30 minutes I had 10 people that wanted it. When we we’re renovating I listed mirrors, sinks, hardware… whatever I thought someone else might find useful…. and they came. These items were destined for the landfill, but with not too much effort were taken away and used by others.
That said – this is one of my areas of weakness. I have a hard time saying goodbye to my stuff. I’m sure it comes from growing up really poor!
6. Reusable Water Bottles
If you don’t have a reusable water bottle and a way to filter your water. Get one and start using it!
Get in the habit of taking your bottles and the children’s bottles ALL THE TIME. In particular parties, sporting events and school. Eventually if host/ess’ start seeing guests arriving equipped with their own beverage containers they won’t feel the need to buy bottled water for their parties. We put out iced tea, water with glasses.
7. Group you errands into similar geographic regions.
Saves trips, saves gas, saves time! SCORE!
8. Detox Your Beauty!
When I first began the journey to detox my beauty routine, I started by using up what I had (still doing this of a few things!) and replacing them with safer options! I encourage everyone to do this. The next item you are running low on, replace it with something better. Use PND to help find the replacement that is right for you. Knowing what I know now, if I was pregnant, I wouldn’t use the “use it up” method. I would make the switch immediately.
Do this for your children first if you have them! Their developing systems are more vulnerable to the toxins in their environment.
9. Pay attention to Preservatives and Additives.
While you are shopping, get in the habit of reading labels! If you can’t read the name of the ingredient, chances are you’d be better off with a different option. You’ll be surprised – pick up pickle relish and 2 brands will contain HFCS, one will not… easy healthier switch.
10. Use Less Canned Foods.
Chances are you’ve heard about BPA’s in the news, in particular concern over plastics and baby bottles. But did you know how we ingest the most BPA’s – Canned Food. Opt for glass packaging over canned to minimize your families exposure!
11. Green Your Parties!
Parties can be a huge source of waste. We opt for convenience, buy a lot of pre packaged, convenient entertainment foods. We serve foods on paper or plastic plates, drink from countless paper & plastic cups. Start adding up the cost of all that convenience and not only are you throwing a lot of hard earned money in the landfill, but that plastic will live there forever.
One year we were getting ready for a super bowl party and did the math. For the cost of buying paper goods, we were able to purchase inexpensive white plates, glasses and wine glasses from IKEA. We use these for our parties - including the parties for the little ones. It may take a little extra effort, but I never have to run out to the store for cups and plates last minute! Next on the list is to get party flatware.
You can also find reasonably priced “catering” sets at Pottery Barn, Cost Plus, and Bed Bath & Beyond.
The pre-packaged food options. Sometimes it’s easy to succumb to the ease of this ready to go food, but for so much less money you can buy really nice, high quality foods, fruits and vegetables.
You might even find with all the money you’re saving on prepared foods and paper goods that you can spend your savings on getting an extra set of hands to help you at the party!
If you can’t bear the thought of these suggestions buy eco friendly disposables. You can find them at Smart & Final, Whole Foods and such. You are looking for plastics that can be Compostable. This typically means they will biodegrade in a few weeks. Compostable plastics can be placed in our “green” garbage bins in Los Angeles. With a little research you can find out if you can compost with your yard waste in your area (in the event you don’t have one in your yard)!
12. Clean Green
Start cleaning your home with green cleaners or make your own formulas using some of our easy recipes. You’ll reduce the toxins you are breathing in your home after you’ve cleaned it.
I’ll never forget an Oprah “ah ha” moment for me… “CLEAN DOESN’T HAVE A SMELL“!
Extra Credit: Use less plastic!
Bring your own bags to the grocery store. Choose products with less plastic packaging. Choose items packaged in glass. Store your leftovers in glass.
You Can Do It!
I know, I know… I missed so many things… you can do those things too!
I hope these tips inspire you to find new things you can do to have a healthier, happier, greener life!
SHARE WHAT YOU PLAN TO GREEN IN YOUR LIFE!
Hot Off the Press! From the EWG:
Washington, D.C. – Today’s decision by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reverse its position over the health risks posed by the chemical, bisphenol A (BPA) could be the Waterloo for the ubiquitous estrogen mimicking substance found in the blood and urine of almost every American.
“Today’s announcement by FDA is the beginning of the end of exposing our children to this toxic, hormone-altering chemical during the earliest stages of life,” said Environmental Working Group Senior VP for Research Jane Houlihan. “It represents a victory for parents and children, and validation of the hundreds of independent studies linking BPA to numerous and serious health problems.”
FDA’s 2008 assertion that BPA presented no health concerns relied on just two industry studies and ignored hundreds of independent studies showing serious hazards at very small exposures. The 2008 assessment was sharply rebuked by the agency’s own Science Advisory Board, which called the scientific basis for FDA’s conclusions “inadequate”.
“This reversal by the new leadership at FDA ends nearly a decade of agency collusion with BPA manufacturers,” added EWG’s co-founder and Senior VP for Policy and Communications, Richard Wiles. “We hope this signals the beginning of a new era for health protections from FDA, based on 21st century science.”
HHS has assembled a number of tips for parents trying to reduce their children’s exposure. The list of tips is available online here: http://www.hhs.gov/safety/bpa/
If you live in North America and have an infant, chances are you are using plastics. If you are using plastics there is good reason to be informed and careful in their use.
Whenever you can opt for stainless steel or glass alternatives. That said, I use plastic and you likely will/do to. Let’s be as informed as we can in their usage.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION WHEN USING PLASTICS
- Never microwave any plastic.
- Never cover any food to be microwaved with plastic wrap.
- Avoid storing babies food in plastic.
- Wash plastics on the top shelf of your dishwasher or by hand.
- Avoid using old and scratched plastic bottles.
- Choose Glass or Stainless Steel Baby Bottles – this is your best protection against future headlines! My concern is that we’ll discover down the road that other petroleum made plastics also leach.
- If you are choosing Plastic Baby Bottles, most manufacturers now make BPA-free baby plastic bottles, with all BPA headlines in the news. If you are using plastic – double check to ensure bottles you use are BPA free.
- Choose bottle nipples made from silicon. They are the most durable and inert options. Latex rubber nipples can cause allergic reactions and can contain impurities linked to cancer. The same goes for pacifiers. Throw away any nipple or pacifier that is discolored, thinning, tacky or ripped.
- Liners: Only use if you them if you have a colicky baby and they’ve been advised by your doctor. The soft plastic liners may leach chemicals into formula, especially when heated. They are also a poor choice from an environmental perspective.
- Glass, that is the best choice for storing & freezing pumped milk – if you can come up with a system that work for you.
- The sealable plastic nursing bags designed for storing breast milk are made of polyethylene. Studies published in Early Human Development and Nutrition Review showed no chemical leaching into the milk, but did indicate that milk stored in these bags may lose some nutrients because they cling to the plastic. This is what worked for our family. I would freeze the milk flat on a box, once frozen stand it up and place at the back of the milk inventory. Thawing was very quick in warm water.
- Let me know if you come up with an efficient glass storage method, I’d love to share it with my readers!
- When your infant starts on their first foods, instead of plastic dishes use glass custard cups. They are durable, can be microwaved, and some even have lids. Chances are – at this stage – you’re the one doing the feeding. Why risk exposure at this very early stage?
- Before you know it your baby is going to start eating real food. Chances are you will be serving most of that food on plastic dishes. my children are 3 & 4 years old, so I know why! Plastic is less likely to break when it’s tossed to the floor.
- Don’t store left over foods in the plastic dishes – store the leftovers in the custard cups we were just discussing – in my books. Less time in the plastic = less time for chemical leaching.
- Look for stainless steel or tempered glass bowls to use as snack containers – they are your safest option. We originally purchased plastic bowls for dry snacks and chopped fruit – my understanding is that leaching occurs most with heat and liquids, but if we could do it again, I’d choose a safer material. BTW – plastic bowls break too!
- If you are using plastic dishes – move your children to regular dishes at an earlier age. My 2 year old son eats his dinner on the same plates as the rest of the family and at the dinner table drinks from a glass. We’ve only lost one plate.
- Duralex glasses are extremely durable, they are tempered making them stronger than regular glass. Shopping for glasses look for Duralex if you want to keep them for a while!
- Avoid polycarbonate for babies food and drinks.
- Polycarbonate plastics, marked with a #7 code or PC; they are rigid, transparent and used for food storage containers and water bottles, among other things. Trace amounts of BPA can migrate from these containers, particularly if used for hot food or liquids.
IF IT MUST BE PLASTIC
- Plastics with the recycling labels #1, #2 and #4 on the bottom are better choices because they do not contain BPA.
- Soft or cloudy-colored plastic does not contain BPA.
Check out these plastic alternatives available at amazon:
These dishes are tempered glass:
KIDISHES Kid-Friendly Tempered Glass Bowls, Plates and Tumblers
These look great for on the go lunches:
LunchBots Pico Stainless Steel Lunch Container
This is a good piece that illustrates why we need to take action and get concerned about the food we are feeding our families and the food our children are being fed away from us.
By Robyn O’Brien – The Daily Green
Since when did it get so hard to be a mom? Ten years ago, we didn’t worry about sending a peanut butter and jelly sandwich into school with our children; we didn’t medicate our eight-year olds to get them through the school day; and the movie Rain Man was all we knew of autism.
Today it is estimated that 50% of Hispanic and African-American children will develop diabetes, that 1 in 90 boys has autism, and that 1 in 4 children has asthma. Pediatrics just reported that from 2002-2005, there was a 103% increase in diabetes medication for children, a 47% increase in asthma medication, a 41% increase in ADHD medication and a 15% increase in high cholesterol medicine.
How did our children get so sick?
Robin’s suggestions to do just one thing – send a letter to Kraft.