If you’re like many health-conscious environmentalists, you’ve been avoiding BPA like the plague — and perhaps even agitating to get the stuff out of canned goods, store receipts, baby bottles, and all sorts of other consumer goods. After all, BPA’s a chemical that’s been linked to everything from breast cancer to sexual problems.

Well, all that hard work to make items BPA-free may not achieve the health goals you were hoping to achieve — because many BPA-free plastics still release chemicals that, like BPA, mimic estrogen!

That is the problem many people are unaware of, according to NPR, which reports on the work of a Texas company called PlastiPure. “This week, scientists from PlastiPure and its sister company CertiChem published a study of more than 450 plastic products, including many labeled BPA-free,” reports NPR. “It found that more than 90 percent released chemicals that mimic estrogen.”

While this news may be devastating to some who’ve gone out of their way to specifically get BPA out of their lives, it isn’t exactly a surprising finding for many environmental health advocates who are calling not just for a ban on BPA, but a more comprehensive overhaul of our chemical regulations. Back in December, a study by the Washington Toxics Coalition called “On the Money: BPA in Dollar Bills and Receipts” (PDF) found that BPA-free receipts still couldn’t be called safe:

Appleton Paper, which produces much of the country’s thermal paper, is one company that has publicized its elimination of BPA. The company has, however, moved to using bisphenol sulfonate, or BPS, a close chemical relative of BPA. BPS has not been studied nearly as extensively as BPA, but in vitro studies indicate it may also disrupt hormones, with studies indicating it has some estrogenic and anti-androgenic properties.
What’s a health-conscious environmentalist to do? An obvious place to start is throwing your support behind the U.S. Senate’s Safe Chemicals Act (S. 3209) and the House’s Toxic Chemicals Safety Act (H.R. 5820), which would ban the worst chemicals, better regulate chemicals in consumer products, study the full risks of these chemicals, and encourage the development of safer alternative chemicals.

But on a more practical level, you can work to avoid plastics altogether, opting for stainless steel water bottles, glass baby bottles, and other more durable reusable materials. If you must have lightweight plastic to carry your water, PlastiPure does have a solution — a “PureBot” water bottle made of plastic that’s certified to be free of estrogenic activity. That bottle’s available for $7.99 each.

BPA-free plastic can still pose problems
Always opt for BPA-free options? Unfortunately, BPA-free plastic doesn't mean estrogenic activity-free materials.