Food packaging as a source of BPA & DEHP exposure

In March the Newton, Massachusetts based Silent Spring Institute published a new study that is the first to show that food packaging is the major source of people’s exposure to the hormone disruptors BPA and DEHP, and that a fresh food diet reduces levels in adults and children by half, after just three days.  The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives on March 30.

BPA and DEHP are hormone disruptors—chemicals that may affect breast and other hormonal cancers, reproduction, and development. DEHP and two other phthalates measured in this study were recently banned under Europe’s REACH regulation because of concerns about reproductive toxicity.

The good news is that this study provides clear evidence that can guide solutions.  The findings show that replacing these chemicals with safer alternatives would significantly reduce exposures for most people.  It’s a clear guideline for individuals working to protect themselves and their families from toxic chemicals. 

The problem, is that it’s not a guideline that everyone can to follow. 

To be able to follow this guideline you have to meet three criteria which are out of reach for many:

  1. You have to have enough money to buy fresh food.  Unfortunately, fresh food is often much more expensive than packaged food – which is at least partly a result of some problems with our food system a topic for another blog post and campaign.
  2. You have to have fresh food available at your local stores.  All too often, food stores in low income communities in particular sell low quality produce and other foods that can hardly be called fresh and is certainly not packaging-free.
  3. You have to have read or heard these guidelines.  While we’d love to think that everyone in Massachusetts is keeping such close tabs on what Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow is writing about that this article will be everyone’s dinner conversation tonight, that’s not the reality. And if you don’t speak English, don’t use a computer, or are working 3 jobs just to keep your head above water, this information is especially unlikely to reach you.

In short, this is a major environmental justice issue. Which brings us to the fact that this study also needs to be a clear message for legislators that we need to pass laws to replace toxic chemicals in our daily lives with safer alternatives, for example by passing Senate Bill 210 in Connecticut. In the meantime, if you’d like to read the study, check out the extensive media coverage, or study some tips for avoiding BPA and phthalates, visit Silent Spring Institute’s website

This article uses material from the website of the Silent Spring Institute.