Canwest News Service
OTTAWA — Some of the most popular baby bottles sold in Canada should be pulled from the shelves because of the health risks posed by the chemical bisphenol A, a study warns.
Commissioned by Environmental Defence, researchers tested a number of baby bottles available in Canada and the U.S. and found that they leached “significant” levels of the hormone-disrupting chemical, also called BPA, when they were heated.
Studies have shown that BPA can upset the body’s hormonal balance and warn that exposure may cause, Type 2 diabetes, early onset of puberty in girls and behavioural problems.
The controversial chemical is widely used in polycarbonate plastics — hard, clear plastics — and in epoxy resins. Baby bottles, reusable water bottles, the lining of canned foods and a host of other everyday products contain BPA.
“If this study doesn’t make the case for an immediate ban on this kind of plastic in food and beverage containers, I don’t know what will,” said Rick Smith, head of Environmental Defence and the parent of a one-year-old.
Health Canada is currently studying the health and environmental effects of BPA and tested baby bottles, sippy cups and beverage bottles. Results are expected this spring.
Concern over the chemical has already prompted some stores, such as Mountain Equipment Co-op and Lululemon, to stop selling polycarbonate bottles.
Environmental Defence tested three bottles from three different brands bought on Canadian store shelves and 10 bottles from four different companies in the U.S. The bottles were filled with water, left to sit for 24 hours, then tested for BPA levels at both room temperature and after heating them in an oven at 80 C. They were heated to determine how much BPA would leach from a well-used bottle, washed repeatedly in hot water or a dishwasher.
The results showed no notable leaching at room temperature, but all bottles showed significant levels of leaching when heated — in the range of five to eight parts per billion.
National standards vary between countries. In Canada, the limit is 25 parts per billion per day.
Parents commonly heat their baby’s bottles in a microwave and wash them in the dishwasher or hot water. According to the study, that can increase the amount of BPA leached from the plastic over time, because the plastic breaks down under those conditions.
Environmental Defence argues that even low doses of the chemical are risky and that babies and children are especially vulnerable.