What Is BPA? Definition and Environmental Impact

  • 30th Apr'22
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We all are aware of the depletion of our environment and natural resources due to the effects of global warming rapidly deteriorating its condition. 

The rise in temperatures worldwide due to greenhouse emissions blanket the Earth resulting in trapping more heat in the atmosphere causes an extremely claustrophobic atmosphere leading to major environmental issues and severe catastrophes like frequent storms, extreme heat, droughts, floods, extinction of various species further decreasing biodiversity as well as disturbing the ecosystem.

Such greenhouse gases and numerous other industrial waste lead to an extremely dangerous situation. One of the major causes of environmental degradation is BPA. Let's understand what is BPA and its environmental impacts - 

 

What is BPA?

 

 

BPA is the short form for bisphenol-A. This industrial chemical which is primarily used for making certain types of plastics and resins like polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins since the 1950s.

Polycarbonate plastics are nothing but the plastic containers that we often buy to store various foods and beverages, They may also be used in other consumer goods.

Epoxy resins are a type of coating that can be seen inside various metal products such as food cans, water tops, and other water supply lines. It is often also used in Dental practices like some sealants and composites also may contain BPA.

While many plastics are becoming safer, the use of BPA plastics is still very much prevalent. In fact, the amount of usage of BPA plastic has caused numerous environmental threats as well as harmful effects on our bodies.

 

How Does BPA Affect The Environment?

 

Recent research has found that BPA can be quite harmful to our health as it can sometimes seep into our food or beverages over time which can lead to the consumption of such harmful chemicals further leading to many health concerns like harmful effects on the brain, prostate gland of the fetus, infants and children, research reflects a possible link between BPA and increased blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

In fact, BPA exposure has become so widespread that research shows most people above the age of 6 have measurable amounts of BPA in their urine. One study also found that about 85% of Korean children below the age of 2  had detectable levels of BPA in their urine.

In addition to this, it was found that due to unconscious continuous consumption of BPA, researchers found that it also caused several issues. BPA has also been found to be influencing the estrogen hormone as BPA mimics the structure and function of the estrogen hormone. 

This can lead to certain severe genetic alterations as BPA influences various bodily processes, such as growth, cell repair, fetal development, energy levels, and reproduction. This itself proves widespread of BPA around the world. 

 

 

Not only humans but BPA can have a major impact on wildlife, particularly on aquatic life in both freshwater and saltwater areas, causing many forms of waterbodies to contaminate. If animals come in contact with such harmful chemicals it can lead to a vicious chain of ingesting and consuming these harmful chemicals. Due to this, the animals may suffer from serious health issues. This causes the animals to die off at a much higher rate compared to their natural lifecycle this in turn again results in an extremely toxic environment to live and thrive in. 

Researchers have developed a more accurate method of measuring bisphenol A (BPA) levels in humans and found that exposure to the endocrine-disrupting chemical is far higher than previously assumed.

Recently, a study found that in fish and turtles, BPA can negatively affect reproduction. This causes abnormality in the ecosystem, further disrupting the environmental pattern.  

Mice also demonstrated a wide range of health concerns according to various researchers, and scientists say that these effects may also be prevalent in other species of animals if tested. 

Other studies suggest, that when mice are exposed to BPA, they clearly show negative behavioral effects like delays in bone formation, changes in liver cells, decreased motor activity, and increased anxiety and aggression. 

Mice also showed a range of reproductive issues, including decreased fetal weight, delayed onset of puberty in offspring, erratic regulation of ovulation, and lower fertility rates.

These were some of the issues and major health concerns that the environment has to face because of BPA.

 

What can we do to avoid or minimize BPA?

 

Another important question that arises is how can we reduce this toxic chain of BPA.

Well, as more research is coming forward and people are becoming more conscious as to what they're using and actively consuming, many people are shifting to safer options that are environmentally friendly as well, rather than BPA-infused ones. While many others still choose to use BPA, here’s what you can do to bring about a small but valuable change in the environment yourself.

Various options of plastics are made with chemicals that do not affect and alter the hormonal activity of living beings and minimize other health risks, these materials are often biodegradable as in they decompose on the surface of the Earth rather than plastic that stays till eternity and does not decompose. This majorly helps prevent accidental ingestion or exposure.

Ecofriendly plastics are typically composed of materials that are easier to recycle, they are made of materials including plant matter, biodegradable substances, etc, this also allows the manufacturers to reuse these materials.

Not only does this prevent plastics from polluting the environment, but it also saves space in landfills and limits municipal waste. Furthermore, there is also waste pollution in the space. According to reports, the Pentagon is now looking for garbage collectors in space

 

Steps to avoid BPA Plastics

 

 

  • Look for packaging made of glass, steel, and porcelain, rather than plastic.

  • When plastic cannot be avoided, choose recycling codes 1, 2, 4, and 5, as these are less toxic plastics.

  • Buy in bulk. Utilize the bulk bins at your grocery store to reduce the amount of food packaging you come in contact with.

  • Go virtual. When given the option, skip the paper receipt, which can be made of BPA-containing thermal paper, and have your receipt emailed to you.

  • Be wary of BPA-free plastics. These can often be made of other Bisphenols, like BPS. The full extent of the health impacts of other Bisphenols are not yet widely understood by scientists but are known to leach endocrine-disrupting chemicals, so it is best to avoid them. Instead, choose alternative packaging materials as much as possible.

  • Look for the MADE SAFE seal on baby products and water bottles. Baby bottles, teething rings, nookies, and toys are often made of BPA-containing plastics, which can leech from the product. In addition to being BPA-free, MADE SAFE certified products are made without other toxic chemicals linked to human health issues and ecosystem harm. 

 

These precautions must be taken for all individuals but especially for pregnant women, infants and toddlers. The initial years of the life of a child are extremely crucial for the development of their immunity. Furthermore, the market is also coming up with alternatives to plastic like Notpla and more. Therefore, there is a need to stay vigilant about plastics and also find a way to replace them. 

 

We at OpenGrowth, are committed to keeping you updated with the best content on the latest trendy topics from any major field. Also, both your feedback and suggestions are valuable to us. So, do share them in the comment section below.

Sources/References:

*Note: The content published above was made in collaboration with our members.

About the author:

Shriya Sarang, OpenGrowth Content Team

Shriya Sarang holds a degree in Political Science and Public Administration. Apart from having no political opinions, she advocates financial literacy among her friends. 


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