These potentially dangerous foods and household items may have received chemical makeovers, but the replacements could be just as bad — or worse.More
Bisphenol A, or BPA, is widely used in clear plastics. Unfortunately, BPA mimics estrogen in the body, and therefore could be harmful to babies and children. In 2012, the FDA banned it from baby bottles, but not from other products. Many shoppers would rather avoid it altogether, which is why manufacturers routinely tout "BPA-free" on their water bottles. But the standard replacement for BPA — bisphenol S, or BPS — is closely related to its infamous predecessor, and it may disrupt normal cell functioning, leading to serious health problems.
What you can do: Choose bottles without BPA, BPS, or BP-anything. Splurge on a reusable stainless steel or glass water bottle, or look for a polypropylene plastic bottle (marked with "PP," or recycling code 5).
Phthalates are a group of chemicals commonly added to plastics to make them flexible. But they also mimic hormones in the body, interfering with normal fetal development and possibly increasing the risk of reproductive health impacts, such as reduced sperm quality. Concerns about DEHP, one of the most widely used of the phthalates, has led to its replacement in recent years in hundreds of products by other phthalates known as DINP and DIDP. The kicker? The replacement chemicals have been linked to high blood pressure and insulin resistance in adolescents, and birth defects in baby boys. If you are worried about the health effects of phthalates, which are found in a whole host of consumer products, keeping them out of your food is a good place to start.
What you can do: Avoid plastic wrap and plastic food containers when possible; use tin foil, glass jars, and ceramic containers instead. Or, choose polyethylene or polypropylene containers (marked with recycling numbers 2, 4, and 5), which do not have estrogenic chemicals in them. And never microwave food in a plastic container. If you must use plastic wrap, make sure it's not directly touching your food, especially in the microwave.