Want To Cut Your Family's BPA Levels?

by Christina Elston

Hormone-disrupting chemicals in water bottles and other food packaging have garneredBPAlots of press in recent years amid worries that they can leach into our food – and our bodies. But families, it turns out, can reduce their levels of Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates dramatically in a matter of days.

In a study conducted by the Breast Cancer Fund and Silent Spring Institute – organizations dedicated to eliminating environmental toxins – researchers took over the diets of five families for three days. Each family of four received freshly prepared organic meals and snacks stored in glass and stainless steel containers. Nothing they ate was packaged in plastic or canned.

Before the “intervention,” the parents’ levels of BPA and phthalates – measured by urine samples – were a little higher than the average U.S. adult. Levels for the children (each family had two, ages 3 to 11) were about average.

After three days on the intervention diet, the families’ levels of BPA dropped an average of more than 60 percent and their levels of phthalates were cut in half. When the families returned to their normal diets, urine levels of these chemicals shot back up. The study was published in a recent issue of Environmental Health Perspectives,

Not enough clinical data exists to determine the exact health benefits of the change, but study co-author Connie Engel, Ph.D., program coordinator for the Breast Cancer Fund, points out that families are exposed to these chemicals on a constant basis.

BPA is used to make plastics, including the lining of food cans. Phthalates are used to make plastics flexible, and are found in many food packages. The chemicals have been shown to interfere with hormones in the body, and have been associated with effects on the developing brain and reproductive system.

Most families can reduce exposure easily, Engel says, and offers these tips:

• Switch from plastic water bottles to glass or stainless steel.

• Reduce your reliance on canned foods. The Breast Cancer Fund tested more than 300 products and named canned coconut milk, soup, meat, vegetables, meals (e.g., ravioli in sauce), juice, fish, beans, meal-replacement drinks and fruit as their top 10 to avoid.

• Switch from plastic to glass or stainless steel for food storage.

• Switch from plastic to glass for microwaving.

To express concerns about BPA to your political representatives, click on the Take Action link on the Breast Cancer Fund’s page dedicated to the food packaging study (


Christina Elston is the editor of LA Parent Magazine.