According to a new study in Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) most plastics, even BPA-free plastics, may contain chemicals with estrogenic activity (EA). EA simply means a chemical mimics the sex hormone estrogen. Researchers found that almost all the commercially available plastic products they tested leached chemicals with detectable levels of EA, including plastic products advertised as BPA-free. The study even notes that some BPA-free products ended up releasing more EA chemicals than BPA-containing products.
According to the research, plastics are made via “Polymerizing a specific monomer or monomers in the presence of catalysts into a high molecular weight chain known as a thermoplastic polymer.” However, because polymerization is usually incomplete, meaning the process results in residual unincorporated monomers, 5-30 chemicals used during plastic manufacturing may end up leaching out. Additionally, the study notes that some materials may initially test EA-free but manufacturing and usage stress can change the chemical structure, thus converting an EA-free chemical to a chemical having EA. Common-use stresses include exposure to UV light, microwave radiation and heating or freezing.
Bottom line — BPA-free or not, plastics such as food wrapping, plastic baby bottles, plastic toddler sippy cups and more, may expose your family to unwanted estrogen affecting chemicals. A safer bet is to stick with glass and/or stainless steel containers, cups and bottles. Check out our top five bpa-free water bottles for kids, which are also plastic-free, or try a glass bottle from Lifefactory.