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How To Limit Your BPA Exposure

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008; 5:03 PM

Consumers anxious to reduce their exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) following a new federal government report warning the chemical may be linked to breast cancer, prostate cancer and other health problems won't find the going easy. The man-made plastics component, often found in hard (polycarbonate) plastics and softer polyvinyl chloride (PVC) products, is virtually ubiquitous. It's in toys, baby bottles, vinyl goods, medical equipment and a host of other everyday products. But there are some steps you can take to reduce potential risk, say toxicology experts.

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To avoid exposure to BPA:

* Look for BPA-free toys, baby bottles and containers. There's been a recent explosion of such products, which may often carry a higher price tag.

* Reduce your use of canned food; eat fresh or frozen foods instead. Bisphenol A has been found in the lining of canned food tins.

* If you use hard polycarbonate plastics (Nalgene bottles, baby bottles, sippy cups), do not heat them or use them for warm or hot liquids. Heating plastics to high temperatures may promote the leaching of chemicals out of containers and into the food or liquid they hold. Freezing plastics poses no such risk.

* Instead of polycarbonate and PVC plastics, consider using alternatives such as polyethylene plastic -- also labeled as PETE or recycling code #1, #2 (HDPE) and #4 (LDPE). Polypropylene (recycling code #5, or PP) is also considered a safe choice. Recycling code #7 may mean the product contains BPA.

* Do not wash polycarbonate plastic containers in the dishwasher with harsh detergents.

-- Ranit Mishori


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