Polycarbonate bottles: Polycarbonate is hard, translucent or clear plastic including large 5 gal. water containers. They contain BPA (bisphenol A) – used in the production of certain kinds of plastics is a known hormone disrupter that has been linked to breast and prostate cancer, infertility. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control found BPA in the bodies of 93 percent of the people they tested. More BPA leaches when the bottles are filled with hot liquid, frozen or refilled several times or older and damaged bottles. These bottles may be marked with the number 7. Although we recommend that you avoid drinking from polycarbonate bottles, it’s important to note that your potential exposure to BPA through canned food is considerably higher.
Canned Foods: All metal food cans are lined with a BPA-based epoxy resin. Based on the information we have now, plastic numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5 do not contain BPA or phthalates, two of the most concerning chemicals in plastic. If they didn’t use it, the cans might rust, or you might end up with metal residues in your food. But because of the high temperatures used in the canning process, your potential exposure to BPA from canned food is much higher than exposure from these bottles.
Other plastic bottles: Don’t reuse single-use plastic drink bottles (PET, or #1 plastic). It’s a good instinct, but bacteria can build up on the inside, and they may leach chemicals too. Drop them in the recycling instead. Bottles made from flexible, cloudy-colored HDPE #2 are considered a safer option if you must have a plastic bottle.
Water filter pitchers and containers: These hard, clear plastic containers may or may not be made of polycarbonate.
Metal water bottles: Metal water bottles come in two variations: stainless steel and aluminum. Many aluminum bottles are lined with an epoxy or enamel, which is likely to contain BPA so ask. Bottles from Sigg and Klean Kanteen, are not lined, so there’s no risk of BPA exposure.
Food containers: Only one manufacturer that we know of uses non-BPA lining on some of their food cans: Eden Organic Beans are packed in lead free tin covered steel cans coated with a baked on oleoresinous c-enamel lining that does not contain (BPA). (Oleoresin is a natural mixture of oil and a resin extracted from various plants, such as pine or balsam fir). These cans cost 13.77 percent more than the industry standard cans that do contain BPA. This costs Eden $300,000 more a year. To our knowledge Eden is the only U.S. company that uses this custom made BPA-free can. Eden’s tomato products are still packaged in cans with a BPA-based lining.
More consumer goods
Baby Bottles: Choose bottles made from glass or BPA-free plastic. Use a clear silicone nipple, and if you’re feeding formula use a powdered version mixed with unfluoridated water. Use powdered baby formulas packaged in non-steel cans. In April of 2008, the National Toxicology Program raised concerns that exposure to BPA during pregnancy and childhood could impact the developing breast and prostate, hasten puberty, and affect behavior in American children.
Dental fillings, dental sealants: These can be BPA-based. If you’re concerned, ask your dentist to show you the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for the filling materials and look for bisphenol A or bisphenol A diglycidyl ether (BADGE), and bisphenol A-dimethyl acrylate (Bis-DMA).
Plastic wrap: In 1998, it was revealed that some plastic wraps contained chemical plasticizers called phthalates, which can migrate into food. In 2006, the industry group American Chemistry Council reported that phthalates are no longer used in any US plastic wraps. Avoid microwaving plastic wrap (use a paper towel instead).
SPI code 3 — Polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The most toxic plastic. Toxins can leech into foods (especially fatty foods and at higher temperatures), possibly disrupting normal hormonal functioning, and causing reproductive disorders and cancer. It is used for:
• Commercial shrink wraps for meat and cheese
• Saran Wrap and Reynolds Wrap
• Plastic trays in boxed cookies or chocolates
• Snack chips bags
• Candy bar wrappers
• Baby bottle nipples
SPI code 6 — Polystyrene. Styrene can leach into foods, possibly disrupting normal hormonal functioning and causing cancer. It is used for:
• Styrofoam coffee cups
• Meat and bakery trays
• Take-out containers
• Plastic utensils
SPI code 7 —All other types; usually Polycarbonate can release bisphenol A (BPA) into liquids and foods, possibly disrupting normal hormonal functioning, and causing miscarriages and birth defects. It is used for: • Almost all food and aluminum can linings
• Vita-Mix and other home blenders and food processors
• 5-gallon water bottles
• Baby bottles
• Take-out containers
• Gravity-feed bulk food bins
The other four plastic types — SPI codes 1, 2, 4 and 5 — are less harmful, but their complete safety can not be assured. The items listed above are not always made from the plastic type indicated. e.g. some take-out containers are made of Low-density Polyethylene — SPI code 4.
Remember that heat greatly increases the leaching of toxins from plastics into foods so use glass, ceramic and stainless steel containers, butcher paper and cloth bags for your food, as much as possible.