Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a man-made, carbon-based synthetic chemical used to make polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins.
“Where is BPA found?”
Since 1957, it has been widely present in canned food, beverages, paper receipts, canned drinks and in a wide array of plastic products such as water and baby bottles, mobile phones, computers, water bottles, dental sealants and medical equipment including those used in hospital settings.
“Why is BPA potentially harmful to me?”
There is growing evidence that products so prevalent in our daily lives may be leaching toxic chemicals such as BPA into our bodies, with consequences affecting not just us, but many generations to come[i].
As an EDC (Endocrine disrupting compound) BPA binds to oestrogen receptors, leaching oestrogen-mimicking chemicals that can interfere with the release of the female hormone oestrogen, and its impact is greatest on disorders associated with metabolism, fertility and neural development.
Research indicates that BPA can migrate in small amounts into food and beverages stored in materials containing the substance and can even disturb biological processes at very low concentrations and exposure can cause reproductive harm.
“Where can I be potentially exposed to BPA on a regular basis?”
Other sources of contact with BPA in the daily life are possibly of equal or greater concern than contact with polycarbonates often used in vaginal speculum.
For example, the plastic linings of food and drinks can where these coatings are subject to either very high temperatures (with foods that are manufactured by cooking in the can) or chemical attrition (acidic soft drinks, for example) are one significant source of BPA.
It is also constantly present on our environment, from release at the point of manufacture by chemical companies and from losses by leaching from landfill sites into the water table. It is even used in dental sealants.[iii]
- Use of food storage containers
- Infant feeding (baby) bottles (exc UK, China & Canada)
- Tableware (plates and mugs)
- Consumption of food stored in plastic storage containers not marked BPA-free
- Consumption of food/drink stored in cans where the linings can often be coated in BPA
- Use of medical devices such as plastic/polycarbonate vaginal speculum (Health professionals).
- Food storage containers
- Till receipts
“We currently use medical instruments containing BPA, what are the alternatives?”
Clear and tough in appearance, it is easy to see why the majority of vaginal speculum manufacturers around the world continue to produce disposable plastic speculum containing BPA. However, less so when considering the it has come under close scrutiny by the scientific community as a potential health concern.
In 2010 it was declared toxic and its use in the manufacture of baby bottles was banned. This brought it into the wider public consciousness for the first time and as serious concerns had been triggered by this.[iv]
Pelican Feminine healthcare to manufacture the PELIspec® range - the only BPA-free vaginal speculum made in the UK; the result of significant research and development at their state-of-the-art facility in Wales offers discerning health professionals the choice to go BPA-free. Piece of mind for both the clinician and patient.
“What steps can I take to reduce daily exposure to BPA-based products[ii]?”
- Seek out BPA-free products. More and more BPA-free products have come to market. Look for products labelled as BPA-free. If a product isn't labelled, keep in mind that some, but not all, plastics marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.
- Cut back on cans. Reduce your use of canned foods since most cans are lined with BPA-containing resin. Eat fresh or frozen foods.
- Avoid heat. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health, advises against microwaving polycarbonate plastics or putting them in the dishwasher, because the plastic may break down over time and allow BPA to leach into foods.
- Use alternatives. Plastic products marked “BPA-free”, glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers for hot foods and liquids. Use infant formula bottles that are BPA free and look for toys that are labelled BPA free.
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