Last month, WalMart announced that it was discontinuing the sale of all baby bottles containing the plastic bisphenol-A. For many, this was the first they’d heard of this specific type of plastic, which can leech into liquids held in containers that are heated, scratched, or used for too long. But consumer and environmental safety groups have been concerned for years, and companies are only starting to change their ways now that the concern is more noticeable in the public sphere.
Lab tests show that bisphenol-A, or BPA, which is used in many plastic bottles as well as the lining in milk, pop, and soup containers, can leech into drinking water and other liquids. Investigation into the ultimate harm this may cause has been going on for some time, and researchers believe that BPA may cause cancer, hyperactivity and infertility.
For the most part, plastic companies have denied the risk of this chemical leaching into liquid and being ingested. They say that the particles are so small that they are virtually harmless. But public health advocates and other groups who have been watching the issue for years say otherwise. Now that WalMart has come out against BPA, other companies (such as the popular water bottle company Nalgene) are following suit, and the plastics industry will have less of a sway now that BPA is in the limelight of consumer concerns.
Unfortunately, this concern has been kept in the dark for so long that we may already have ingested a lifetime’s worth of BPA, and our bodies may be seeing the effects of that for years to come. By focusing on baby bottles, WalMart leaves the possibility for the next generation to grow up BPA-free. But with the compound still in soups, pops, milk, and the lining of many other liquids, we may not have as much control over the chemicals we ingest as we would like to think.
Now that this concern is not only theoretical, but substantial enough to act on, the responsibility lies with manufacturers to act on the knowledge we have and remove the dangerous product from coming in contact with an unknowing public.