BPA-Free Bottles, Sippy Cups Still Release Hormone-Like Chemicals, Study Says
New research reveals most plastic products are releasing chemicals that act like the sex hormone estrogen.
And even BPA-free plastic products can leach a chemical that mimics estrogen, a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives shows.
Researchers went on a shopping spree at Whole Foods and Walmart, buying hundreds of plastic products that come in contact with food or drink, including baby bottles, water bottles and sippy cups, and found 70 percent released chemicals that acted like the hormone when soaked in saltwater or alcohol, NPR reports.
The study showed the products released the chemicals, even before they were exposed to real-world conditions such as simulated sunlight, dishwashing and microwaving, George Bittner, one of the study's authors and a professor of biology at the University of Texas, Austin, tells NPR.
Bittner, who founded the testing company CertiChem, chopped up pieces of each product and soaked them in either saltwater or alcohol to see what came out.
The study didn't look at health risks, but simply whether common plastic products release estrogen-like chemicals other than BPA.
But exactly how BPA and the other chemicals that mimic estrogen affect humans, and how serious those effects are, is still very much up for debate, NPR reports.
The U.S. government generally advocates caution and more research, but agencies have issued a range of hesitant warnings, according to NPR.
The National Toxicology Program, a division of the National Institutes of Health, says it has "some concern" about potential BPA exposures to the brains and prostate glands of fetuses, infants and children. Other agencies say they have lingering, unresolved "questions" about the chemical.
Studies have shown links between BPA and cancer, diabetes, heart disease and a host of other illnesses, NPR reports.
Until scientists come up with more definitive answers, Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst at the Environmental Working Group, tells NPR that worried consumers can follow the old advice to avoid putting those baby bottles and other plastic products in dishwashers or microwaves.
"We've long cautioned consumers to avoid extreme heat and cooling for plastics, to discard scratched and worn plastics and we feel like this (study) validates one of our many concerns," she tells NPR.
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