Plastic Bottles: Balance Safety and Convenience
Headlines about health hazards of plastic bottles may spark concern about dangers to yourself or your family. How much should you worry? The short answer: not much if you drink bottled water or send it to school with the kids. If you have children small enough to use baby bottles or sippy cups, however, you need to make sure that they're drinking from safe containers.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned in January that the chemical bisphenol A, known as BPA, potentially could cause harm to "the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children." This was a reversal for the FDA, which previously had supported the chemical industry argument that BPA was no concern. The Canadian government earlier banned all BPA use in baby bottles.
When it comes to bottles for water and other drinks, BPA occurs chiefly in inflexible hard plastic containers that may have a recycling No. 7 on the bottom. (For a description of recycling numbers and what they tell you about the materials, visit Suite101.com.) But some baby bottles and sippy cups do contain BPA. And cans containing prepared food and vegetables are lined with a plastic made in part from BPA.
As you look around your house or the supermarket, here's a rundown on when to worry, when to relax, and, if you're worried, what to do about it:
If you buy a reusable water bottle, opt for aluminum instead of plastic.What should you do in the meantime? If you cook just for adults, you probably don't need to worry. But if you're cooking for small children, pay attention to the packages on the supermarket shelf. Wu suggests looking for vegetables in glass or cardboard containers when you can't use fresh produce. Whatever the plastic containers or bottles, heating them is not a good idea. So keep them out of the microwave. Heat milk separately and then pour it into a bottle or cup. Taking reasonable precautions in choosing and handling such containers should keep your family safe.
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