THE EDITOR: I was rather saddened to hear about people looting (plastic) bottles of water from the truck involved in the recent tragic accident on the Uriah Butler Highway. Little do they know they will pay a higher price than the cost of the water – with their health. Poetic justice, I suppose.
They will get a nice dose of BPA (bisphenol-A) which would have leeched into the water from when the bottle was first filled to lying on the highway, exposed to the sun. The leeching occurs all the time but is accelerated by heat.
Briefly, BPA-containing plastics are commonly used in food containers, baby bottles, toiletries, feminine hygiene products and many other everyday items. BPA has a structure similar to the hormone estrogen. It may bind to estrogen receptors, affecting many bodily functions.
BPA may cause infertility in men and women. Studies show that women with frequent miscarriages have about three times as much BPA in their blood as women with successful pregnancies; women with higher levels of BPA have proportionally lower egg production and are less likely to become pregnant; men with higher BPA levels were three-four times more likely to have a low sperm concentration and low sperm count; men working in BPA manufacturing companies in China reported 4.5 times more erectile difficulty and less overall sexual satisfaction than other men.
There’s much more. Children born to mothers with higher BPA levels are more hyperactive, anxious, and depressed. BPA exposure during early life is also thought to influence prostate and breast tissue development in ways that increase cancer risk. Higher BPA levels in adults are associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Higher BPA levels are linked to a 29 per cent higher risk of abnormal liver enzyme levels. And African green monkeys exposed to BPA levels judged safe by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showed loss of connections between brain cells.
Almost everyone admits we are facing an obesity epidemic. Very few would be aware that drinking water from plastic bottles could be contributing to it. Some studies show obese women may have BPA levels 47 per cent higher than those of their normal-weight counterparts; people with the highest BPA levels are 50-85 per cent more likely to be obese and 59 per cent more likely to have a large waist circumference.
So BPA is bad news, all round. Its use has already been restricted in the EU, Canada, China, Malaysia and some US states, especially in products meant for babies and young children. (That includes some plastic toys.)
But be careful about going BPA-free if that means replacing it with BPF (bisphenol-F) and BPS (bisphenol-S). Even small concentrations of BPF and BPS may disrupt the function of your cells in ways similar to BPA. (It’s like replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners, which can cause more health problems than sugar.)
Best advice: Ask yourself, do you really need to drink water from a plastic bottle after it’s been stored there for months or longer? Buy liquids that come in glass bottles instead of plastic bottles or cans. Use glass baby bottles instead of plastic ones. Do not eat anything packaged in a can or plastic bottle. Yes, that means all canned foods and all plastic-bottled drinks.
Though some popular industries (including medical and pharmaceutical) will lose a customer, your body (health) will thank you for it.
NOEL KALICHARAN via e-mail