CAT | Toxins and Health
Don’t worry, we’re not going to say that BPA (bisphenol A) is not as bad as we thought—it certainly is. But the good news is that plastic bottles that claim to be BPA-free were actually found to live up to their claims. Concerns that newer “BPA-free”-marketed bottles were not actually free of the harmful endocrine-disrupting chemical prompted this independent study, funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the UC Center for Environmental Genetics, performed by University of Cincinnati researchers and published in the journal Chemosphere.
The researchers found that stainless steel and/or co-polyester lined aluminum bottles did not release BPA, but aluminum bottles lined with epoxy-based resins did. “[BPA] is used extensively in the production of consumer goods, polycarbonate plastics, in epoxy resins that are used to coat metallic food and beverage cans and in other products. There is a great concern regarding the possible harmful effects from exposures that result from BPA leaching into foods and beverages from packaging or storage containers,” the study stated.
All bottles used in the study were obtained from retail stores and were made from polycarbonate, co-polyester, stainless steel, aluminum with co-polyester lining or aluminum with epoxy resin lining.
Detectible levels of BPA leaked from polycarbonate bottles, though the aluminum bottles lined with epoxy resins leached the most BPA. So if you switched your reusable water bottle to a metal one, be sure it’s not lined with epoxy resin. Aluminum bottles lined with EcoCare™ did not leach BPA. It’s good to know there are safer alternatives out there.
Any food we consume these days, unless it’s organic, was almost certainly exposed to pesticides at some point. The use of pesticides on food crops has largely increased over the last century in America. In a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, pesticides were detected in 96 percent of blood and urine samples of more than 5,000 Americans age 6 and older. Pesticide prevalence in the US is higher than it’s ever been and the toxicity of pesticides is unquestionable. These harmful chemicals have been linked to various health problems, such as skin, eye and lung irritation, brain and nervous system toxicity and hormone disruption.
Buying organic is the healthiest choice but with limited supply and high prices, purchasing all organic produce may not be possible for the average shopper. Luckily we now have some perspective on the world’s most polluted produce with the annual “dirty dozen” list.
For the past 7 years the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit environmental health organization, has helped consumers who are concerned about pesticides on produce. Each year EWG scientists test conventionally grown (not organic) produce samples for pesticide residues and use data collected from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. Analysts assemble a ranking of the fruits and vegetables that contain the greatest amount of pesticide residues called the “dirty dozen.” This inventory helps consumers decide which organic fruits and vegetables to splurge on when they’re shopping for produce. Similarly, a separate list is released of the non-organic produce with the least accumulation of potentially harmful pesticide residues called the “clean fifteen.”
Dirty Dozen 2011 (buy organic when possible)
- Nectarines (imported)
- Grapes (imported)
- Sweet bell peppers
- Blueberries (domestic)
- Kale/collard greens
Clean Fifteen 2011 (lowest amounts of pesticides)
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas
- Cantaloupe (domestic)
- Sweet potatoes
You may be thinking that you’re in the clear because you wash all of your fruits and veggies. While it’s true that washing non-organic fruits and vegetables helps remove some chemical residues, washing produce only goes so far. Pesticides are also absorbed through the roots of plants so washing won’t remove all risk of pesticide exposure. Plus, before the EWG tests any fruit or vegetable for pesticides, samples are washed and peeled. Produce is evaluated just as it would be consumed, making the “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen” lists even more accurate.
But don’t let the dirty dozen scare you. The health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables far outweigh any pesticide exposure risk. It’s always best to choose organic when possible to limit your exposure to harmful levels of pesticides, but now you can choose your produce wisely and not break the bank in the process.
Since we’re all exposed to harmful chemicals like pesticides, remember to do a total-body cleanse 2-4 times each year to help keep your detoxification processes in tip-top shape.