Last night Mujeres Unidas was happy to welcome Melinda Alcorn from the Kentucky Environmental Foundation to talk about the effects of BPA on the health and well being of our community.

From Wikipedia:

Bisphenol A (BPA) is an organic compound with the chemical formula (CH3)2C(C6H4OH)2 belonging to the group of diphenylmethane derivatives and bisphenols.

BPA is used to make certain plastics and epoxy resins; it has been in commercial use since 1957. BPA-based plastic is clear and tough, and is used to make a variety of common consumer goods (such as baby and water bottles, sports equipment, and CDs and DVDs) and for industrial purposes, like lining water pipes. Epoxy resins containing BPA are used as coatings on the inside of many food and beverage cans. It is also used in making thermal paper such as that used in sales receipts.

It is part of the bisphenols group of chemical compounds with two hydroxyphenyl functionalities. It is a colorless solid that is soluble in organic solvents, but poorly soluble in water. Bisphenol A has a vapor pressure of 5×10−6 Pa.[1]

BPA exhibits hormone-like properties that raise concern about its suitability in consumer products and food containers. Since 2008, several governments have questioned its safety, which prompted some retailers to withdraw polycarbonate products. A 2010 report from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned of possible hazards to fetuses, infants, and young children.[2] In September 2010, Canada became the first country to declare BPA a toxic substance.[3][4] The European Union, Canada, and recently the United States have banned BPA use in baby bottles.[5]

Kentucky Environmental Foundation is concerned with the possible long term effects related to exposure to BPA over a life span. They plan to inform as many people as possible about the potential risks associated with BPA. Since the concerns have only recently been raised about the potential risks of BPA there are no long term conclusive studies about its health risk. It seems that children are at the greatest risk to develop negative side effects stemming from exposure to BPA. Since BPA mimics hormones in the body the potential risks include obesity, reproductive health issues, diabetes, cancer, and circulatory functions.

Melinda presented the group with a clear description of the products that may expose us to BPA. At the same time she also exposed us to a wonderful meal that was prepared without using any products that may contain BPA.

Since we do not know for sure the potential risks of BPA, I think we should try to act on the safe side and try to reduce our exposure as much as possible. We can do this by: buying canned food in glass jars, using products that have “BPA free” on the label, not using plastics with the number “3” or “7” in the recycling triangle, and by doing what is common in Grow Appalachia – eating fresh food. Unpacked food (fresh produce) has little possibility of containing any BPA.

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