There have been whispers about the harms of plastic and BPA for children for years but a recent study published in Pediatrics journal shows the direct harm to children specifically. Many families have already switched to bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalate free products and are avoiding plastic wraps like the plague but you need to take more steps than just that! Read on to learn how to protect your family and reduce your risk for many health problems they create.
BPA and phthalates such as Di-2-ethylphthalate (DEHP) are chemicals used in most plastics products and can also be found at high levels in processed foods. They are responsible for that "plastic-like" smell of new car, new carpet, new toys, new bottle, and even new pacifiers. Many of the plastic wraps or tupperware containers that you place on your food can also pass these chemicals on. These chemicals are endocrine disrupting chemicals that can alter your hormones and even be stored inside the body to cause long lasting toxic effects. It is very important to reduce your family's exposure so that these chemicals don't permanently alter hormone levels or effect development for children.
The study I mentioned above in Pediatrics has linked phthalates to insulin resistance which is a sugar balance disorder that causes blood sugar to be unstable. This can cause issues with mood, hormones, and can also lead to diabetes and heart problems in ALL family members, not just kids. The study also found a link between BPA and obesity where body fat and waistlines were larger in children with higher BPA exposure levels.
So how can you protect your family?
1. Don't heat your food while it is in plastic containers or covered with plastic wrap. Switch it over to a microwave safe plate or use a paper towel to protect from spatter.
2. Switch to glass tupperware or look for containers that are labeled BPA and melamine-free.
3. Pack your lunch and your childrens in a traditional paper bag or stainless steel lunch box. Make sure you also look for those reusable BPA-free sandwich and snack wrappers.
4. Avoid buying highly processed foods as they will increase your family's exposure. Try to encourage the whole family to eat fresh foods that grow from the ground as a snack instead of those chips and candy.
5. Check your children's pacifiers and toys for warnings (most toys are required to be labeled with a phthalate warning in California) about phthalate exposure especially if they are toys for children under 3 who are more likely to put them in their mouth. I also recommend airing out and washing plastic toys after they've been removed from their plastic so you can decrease the amount of phthalates that will pass onto your kids. (You can also avoid plastic toys all together by switching to great wooden products from companies such as Melissa & Doug. These are a favorite at my house.)
Trasande et al. "Urinary Phthalates and Increased Insulin Resistance in Adolescents" Pediatrics. August 19 2013