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Packaged Foods Increases Harmful BPA Exposure

Food Packages Increase BPA Levels

In the case of BPA exposure, it's not what's inside the package that counts.

According to a new study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives food packages significantly increase levels of the dangerous chemical Bisphenol (BPA) in humans. Researchers found that after living just three days on fresh un-packaged foods adults and children had an average of a 60 percent decrease in the amount of BPA in their bodies.

BPA is a chemical used in the making of plastics and resins for food packaging. It is abundant in water bottles, the linings of food cans and food containers. BPA has been found to cause harm in humans, most notably disruptions in the hormone system.

“BPA has been shown to mimic the hormone estrogen, and exposure has been associated with effect on the developing brain, reproductive system, and mammary and prostate glands in laboratory studies,” explained the authors in a summery report released jointly by the Breast Cancer Fund and Silent Spring Institute.

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For the study, researchers enrolled five families each with two parents and two children. All family members had their BPA baselines measured at the beginning of the study then were given three days worth fresh foods. All of the foods consumed by the families during this time were not exposed to BPA packaging at any time and were stored in stainless steel or glass containers. After the three days each family member was remeasured for BPA.

The researchers discovered that, on average, the levels of BPA decreased by 60 percent in all families members. Furthermore, when the families returned to their normal eating habits prior to the study their BPA levels rose back up to baseline.

“These finding suggest that a substantial portion of exposure to BPA and DEHP is from food packaging or meals outside the home. Therefore, people can reduce their exposure by preparing food from fresh ingredients and avoiding purchasing or storing foods in plastic and cans. This study also suggest that removing BPA and DEHP from food packaging could significantly decrease exposure for adult and children who use packaged and prepared foods,” the study authors wrote in the summary report.

Other chemicals including DEHP, DP, DP, BBP and DMP were also measured during this study. Only the chemicals found in food packaging (DEHP and BPA) were found to decrease during the study. This added further confirmation that eliminating food packaging was, indeed, responsible for this decline.

Image Source: Morgue File
Resource: "Food Packaging and Bisphenol A and Bis(2-Ethylhexyl) Phthalate Exposure: Findings from a Dietary Intervention." Ruthann A. Rudel, Janet M. Gray, Connie L. Engel, Teresa W. Rawsthorne, Robin E. Dodson, Janet M. Ackerman, Jeanne Rizzo, Janet L. Nudelman, Julia Green Brody. Environmental Health Perspectives, Published online 30 March 2011.DOI:10.1289/ehp.1003170