What is BPA? Plastic Water Bottles and Human Health

BPA has made headlines repeatedly over the years and prompted a public outcry for more information over the topic. Many people have called for its ban and expressed concerns over the presence of BPA in everyday household items. The overwhelming presence of BPA in food and drink containers may be negatively impacting a wide range of bodily functions independent of age, race, or gender. The long term consequences of involuntary and long-term ingestion of the chemical raises the question of how to avoid it.

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What is exactly is BPA? The Mayo Clinic defines BPA, short for bisphenol A., as an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960’s. The Clinic further explains that “BPA is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are often used in containers that store food and beverages, such as water bottles.” Essentially, BPA is a chemical that has been used in plastic productions for nearly 70 years and is universal among plastic-based container goods. BPA becomes problematic when used in everyday items such as water bottles and Tupperware due to the susceptibility of the chemical leaching into the contained product, i.e. food or beverages. This in turn leads to the chemical unknowingly being ingested and causing short and long term ailments. The Mayo Clinic reinforces that notion and states, “Some research has shown that BPA can seep into food or beverages from containers that are made with BPA. Exposure to BPA is a concern because of possible health effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children. Additional research suggests a possible link between BPA and increased blood pressure.”

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Your So Cal Tap Water previously had the opportunity to interview Brenda Meyer, an engineer and water scientist from Western Municipal Water District, about the regulations that tap water is mandated to follow. We learned that besides BPA contamination concerns, bottled water also faces looser regulations in the filtering process compared to tap water. This is not to say that bottled water is unsafe to consume, but does reinforce the notion that tap water faces strict regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is monitored to maintain its quality. Bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is subject to weekly test for bacteriological contamination in California; while regular bottled water testing is suggested, it is not always enforced and often goes loosely regulated. Municipal water districts are subject to more rigorous quality tests on a frequent basis and take pride upholding the integrity of the resource.

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Time Magazine online shares a recent study, conducted by Orb Media, on the contamination of 9 of the 11 bottled water tested for Microplastic contamination testing positive. The findings were nearly universal discovering Microplastics in 90% of the samples tested. Compared to bottled water from around the globe, those tested from U.S. sources ranked higher for contamination. Furthermore, the environmental impacts of the bottled water are also a concern if not addressed.

We know that tap water is BPA free, regulated, and wallet-friendly to consume, but still the United States is experiencing an increase in sales of bottled water. According to data released by Beverage Marketing Inc., “Theamount of bottled water sold rose 7.9 percent in 2015. That’s on top of a 7 percent increase in 2014. Looking over a long term time span, from 2000 to 2015, bottled water consumption more than doubled, from 16.7 gallons a person to 36.4 gallons.”

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Americans are consistently purchasing and consuming more bottled water than ever before and potentially exposing themselves to hazardous chemicals in the process. Besides the convenience of purchasing bottled water, packaging is valued for its aesthetic components and media ‘worthiness.’ National Geographic speaks to the anti-bottled-water campaigns “which have been concentrated on the nation’s college campuses and focus on the environmentalimpact of bottled water as a packaged product, compared to simply refilling a reusable water bottle,” but concludes that the movement needs more engagement from the public.

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Staying BPA free is possible and there are many simple steps you can take to avoid it. Using a reusable bottle and filling it with tap water helps avoid environmental and health consequences that plastics containing BPA can produce. Choosing the right refillable bottle identified with ‘BPA free’ stickers or signage are also instrumental to avoiding the chemical in your household items. Whatever the case, be reassured that filling it with tap water is safe and monitored as well as economically friendly for any home!

To read our  interview with Brenda click here.