Do the plastic in kettles leach the toxin BPA?

People are concerned about BPA (Bisphenol A) leaching from plastic into their food and beverage due to the uncertainty and unclear messages from the government and manufactures. In 2008 the media coverage about BPA skyrocketed after the government released several reports questioning the health risks with too high exposure to BPA. The result of the reports and media coverage were that a lot of the products with BPA disappeared from the store shelves, but there are still too many products left. A new report from the Untied States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2010 raised further concerns about the debated BPA. The new report claimed that especially fetuses, infants and children have adverse health affect of exposure to BPA.

What is Bisphenol A (BPA)?

Bisphenol A is often just abbreviated BPA and is an organic compound used as a chemical building block in some types of plastic and epoxy. BPA has been know to man since 1891 and have since the 1930s been suspected to be hazardous to humans. Even though we have suspected BPA to be hazardous it has been used in over 50 years to make various products that might come in contact with our food.

BPA is commonly used to make the strong and durable polycarbonate plastic and epoxy. Polycarbonate has many good properties that makes the plastic type popular with the manufacturers. Some of the good properties with Polycarbonate are that it is easy to mould, have good resistance to impacts without shattering, high temperature resistance and good optical properties due to the clear plastic. Polycarbonate is used in a great variety of products like;

Water bottles and food containers.

Medical and dental devices.

Sealants.

Lenses to binoculars and glasses.

Various sports equipment.

CDs and DVDs

A great variety of electric equipment in your home.

The epoxy resins are most commonly used as coating inside food and beverage cans, water supply pipes and as a sealant in bottle tops. The manufacturers are having a hard time finding something as versatile and cheap as polycarbonate and epoxy for their products.

Adverse health effects with BPA

Bisphenol A can mimic some of our hormones and fetus and infants are especially at risk. This is due to BPA can unnaturally active genes and cause the cells to divide at abnormal rate. The U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) has expressed “some concern for effects on brain, behavior and prostate gland in fetuses, infants and children at current exposure levels to Bisphenol A“.

The scientists use rodents to research the adverse health affects with BPA and have found some unpleasant results. The results showed some medical conditions we can now associate with BPA exposure;

Early puberty.

Diabetes.

Hyperactivity.

Obesity.

Breast cancer.

Weakened immune system.

Sperm defects.

Decreased reproductive development.

The chemical BPA can alter our cells even at very low levels, the range the scientist are speaking about is per trillion. Sadly, the exposure we humans are facing consistently are 10 to 100 times greater.

How to avoid BPA

The exposure to BPA is today widespread and most of us get exposed each day. But we can limit the exposure to a certain degree by taking some precautions. Try to aviod Polycarbonate and Epoxy plastic by checking your plastic equipment and other equipment that comes in contact with food or beverages. Plastic products are labeled in seven recycling classes and Polycarbonate and Epoxy are categorized in the type 7 “Other” class. Polycarbonate can be identified by a “PC” below or close to the recycling symbol.

Another plastic type that we haven’t discussed but still contains BPA is type 3 (PVC). It can be difficult to avoid plastic but the type 1 (PET), type 2 (HDPE), type 4 (LDPE), type 5 (Polypropylene) and type 6 (Polystyrene) are completely free from BPA.

Polycarbonate is both strong and durable, but it will start to break down over time and release more and more BPA. High temperatures speed up the process of breaking down the Polycarbonate. A study has shown that new and old bottles with content at room-temperature leach about the same amount of BPA. When the bottles got exposed to boiling water they released BPA up to 55 times faster.

When it comes to electric cordless water kettles, I recommend not to buy kettles made of Polycarbonate. If you already own a electric cordless kettle made of Polycarbonate you should consider buying a new kettle that is free of harmful toxins as fast as possible. The manufacturers must be better to inform us customers of the types of plastic the products are made of. The information should always listed on the product and in the user manual, but are often hard to find. Next time you are looking for an electric cordless kettle do thoroughly research or just buy a kettle without any plastic parts.

>> Have a look at our reviews of BPA-free electric cordless kettles

Resources

>> Wikipedia.org Bisphenol A

>> National Institute of Enviromental Health Sciences