Thought BPA-free meant worry-free? You (and I) were sadly mistaken. Sure, BPA-free bottles don't contain BPA, or bisphenol A, the chemical compound found in hard plastics and in the linings of food and beverage cans. But a new study has found that these products still release chemicals that like BPA, mimic estrogen and disrupt normal biological processes.
According to the study, which was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, almost all of the commercially available plastic products leach chemicals with “estrogenic activity,” or EA. The authors wrote, “In some cases, BPA-free products released chemicals having more EA than BPA-containing product.”
For the study, researchers purchased 450 plastic from retail stores such as Walmart and Whole Foods. Of the products tested, 70 percent released estrogen-mimicking chemicals. When these products were subjected to real-world stresses such as light, heat, dishwashing and microwaving, the number of products that leached BPA-like chemicals was closer to 95 percent.
In the interests of full disclosure, I think it's important to note that one of the study’s authors — George Bittner, a professor at the University of Texas — is also the founder of a company that makes plastics certified free of estrogenic activity. But the watchdogs at the Environmental Working Group, the nonprofit public advocacy group, applauded the study for bringing concerns about BPA-free plastics to light.