BPA is an acronym for Bisphenol A. This is a chemical building block used in combination with carbonyl chloride or diphenyl carbonate to produce polycarbonate plastic. The beneficial features of polycarbonate include it’s clarity, heat resistance, impact resistance and does not impart a taste or odor to food and beverages. Consequently it is used in a wide variety of products including tableware, baby bottles, re-useable bottles and food storage containers, lining of canned goods, compact discs, some dental sealants, electronic equipment, and some medical devices.
Although it has been approved for use by the FDA, concern has arisen about the risk of exposure to BPA partially due to its widespread use. Some studies on rodents, fish and cells indicate that BPA may cause endocrine disruption by mimicking hormones like estrogen. Human studies have shown evidence of BPA in urine, however only the animal studies have looked at the risk of endocrine disruption. The research in this area began with the focus on baby bottles when BPA was detected in baby formula. It is common practice to sterilize baby bottles by placing them in boiling water and it is this exposure to high temperatures that promotes the leaching of BPA.
Over time, advancements have enabled scientist to detect the presence of BPA at lower and lower levels. So what do we do with this additional information? There is a great deal of controversy over the leaching of BPA from polycarbonate plastic and the estimated risk to health.
The FDA has set a maximum acceptable level for the exposure to BPA. It is estimated that an average adult's exposure is 4000 times LOWER than the maximum acceptable level. To actually get the maximum acceptable level of exposure, an average adult would need to eat/drink 1300 pounds of food/beverage exposed to polycarbonate, every day for a lifetime.1
Other scientists claim that the setting of a maximum level of exposure is erroneous because it is based on "the assumption that if an effect can’t be seen at high doses, then it doesn’t happen at low doses. (Some scientists believe that) given at high levels, chemicals can suppress or kill but at low levels they can stimulate." p42 Scientists from both sides of the argument can identify flaws in each other’s studies. So the controversy continues.
Custom Pure is not a bottle manufacturer and we do not have a definitive answer regarding the BPA issue. However, we can offer some ways in which you can manage your exposure with respect to water.
- Careful use of Polycarbonate Bottles: When using polycarbonate bottles,don’t expose your bottles to extreme temperatures – don’t sterilize them with boiling water, or put them in the freezer. Avoid leaving them in a hot car all day long. Limit exposure to UV rays. Re-use your own bottles so that you can be confident that they have been well cared for. There are polycarbonate bottles now available that are BPA free and they will be clearly labeled as such. However, they are not as sturdy and impact resistant as the polycarbonate bottles with BPA - so handle them gently.
- Change Bottle Material: There is no perfect container as all alternatives have their benefits and limitations. Alternative choices include polyethylene, P.E.T., glass and stainless steel. See our section on bottles for more information about these alternatives.
- Get a Water Filter: BPA and polycarbonate plastic are not used in manufacturing of our water filters. See our Residential section.
- "Polycarbonate plastics and Bishphenol A Release"
- "Large effects from small exposures. II. The importance of positive controls in low-dose research on bisphenol A."