BPA: What You Need to Know

BPA: You’ve heard about it. You know it’s not good. But do you know why?

BPA, or Bisphenol A, is commonly found in plastics, such as water bottles, food storage containers and ‒ you guessed it ‒ plastic straws. The most common way for BPA to get into your body is through your diet. While you don’t actually eat BPA, some of the chemical can leach into your food and drinks when they come into contact with a BPA-containing plastic.

It’s hard to imagine that food or drink simply having contact with BPA can cause a large amount of the chemical to get into your body, but it’s true. A recent study showed that urinary levels of BPA decreased by 66 percent after participants avoided packaged foods for three days. Studies show that babies fed with bottles containing BPA have eight times the levels of BPA in their bodies than that of breastfed babies.

While it’s clear that BPA leaches from plastics and finds its way into our bodies through the foods we eat and the drinks we consume, experts are not in agreement as to exactly how BPA affects our bodies. It’s believed that BPA can mimic estrogen in the body, binding itself to hormone receptors, creating hormonal changes in the body. These changes can affect a number of our natural processes, including reproduction, growth, acne, menstrual cycles, fetal development, cell repair, thyroid functions and energy levels.

Many studies have found evidence that BPA effects fertility in a variety of ways. In a study of women who experienced multiple miscarriages, BPA levels were three times higher in women who repeatedly miscarried than in women who successfully carried to term. Men with high BPA levels are 46 percent more likely to produce low-quality embryos than men with lower BPA levels.

Studies of babies whose mothers were exposed to BPA at work tended to be about a half-pound smaller than other babies at birth. Over time, children who were exposed to BPA before they were born showed higher levels of emotional reactivity, aggression, anxiety, hyperactivity and depression. Because BPA mimics estrogen, children who were exposed to BPA during fetal development are also likely to be at higher risk of reproductive cancers over the course of their lifetimes.

In some areas of the world, including the European Union, Malaysia, China and Canada, BPA is heavily restricted, especially in products that are typically used by young children. In the United States, many scientists believe that the research on BPA has been biased. Studies that have been funded by people who profit from BPA-containing products have found that the chemical causes zero negative effects in humans. In contrast, 92 percent of independent studies have found that BPA causes negative effects in the body.

Avoiding BPA can be hard, especially when you can’t go into the kitchen at restaurants or into food production facilities and check out the type of plastics they’re using for storage. While you can’t completely control your intake of BPA, you can work to lessen how much of the chemical you (and your customers) take into your body. One of the best ways to do this is by ditching plastic straws in favor of paper straws. When you stop your drinks from passing through a plastic tube, you’re stopping BPA from working its way into your body.

If you haven’t made the decision to switch to paper straws yet, it’s time. Our paper straws are strong, biodegradable and, most importantly, will not add any harmful chemicals to your customers’ drinks. Do the right thing for your body, your customers and the environment — make the change.