The Ban on Toxic Bottles - What are the Options?
Another reason why breastfeeding is best for baby...
Last month, Canada took the plunge and banned baby bottles made with bisphenol A:
"The Government of Canada led by Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, newly re-elected last week, will immediately draft the world's first regulations to prohibit the importation, sale and advertising of plastic baby bottles that contain the chemical bisphenol A."
Considering that all the major baby bottle makers (Avent, The First Years, Dr Brown's, Evenflo, Gerber and Playtex) have all been found to leach bisphenol A in quantities deemed harmful, I think this ban has had an enormous effect on the industry of baby bottles. Incidentally, Dr Brown's was shown to be the worst of the lot. Here is a summary of the findings:
- Popular brands Avent, Disney/The First Years, Dr. Brown’s, Evenflo, Gerber, and Playtex market baby bottles that leach bisphenol A when heated;
- The laboratory tests detected between 5-8 ng/ml (parts per billion) bisphenol A leached from all bottles when heated;
- Based on over 150 peer-reviewed journal articles on bisphenol A, we conclude that the amount leaching from heated bottles is within the range shown to cause harm in animal studies and is therefore a health concern for infants;
- Dr. Brown’s brand bottles had the overall highest levels of bisphenol A leaching, while Avent brand bottles had the overall lowest levels of leaching in U.S. bottles; Canadian results differ. The levels of bisphenol A leaching increased dramatically when the bottles were heated, with highest concentrations reported from Dr. Brown’s brand bottles. These findings are significant as baby bottles are often heated, and/or very warm liquids are poured into bottles;
- Heating bottles to 80°C provides evidence of leaching when bottles are heated; heating to 80°C has been found to simulate 60–100 bottle washings and normal wear and use conditions;
What's the issue with bisphenol A in baby bottles?
"BPA, a synthetic sex hormone that mimics estrogen, is used to make hard polycarbonate plastic. Ninety-five percent of all baby bottles on the market are made with bisphenol A. The results of the U.S. study show that, when new bottles are heated, those manufactured by Avent, Evenflo, Dr. Brown’s and Disney/First Years leached between 4.7 – 8.3 parts per billion of bisphenol A. Recent research on animals shows that bisphenol A can be harmful by disrupting development at doses below these levels."
Bisphenol A has been found to affect future fertility of infants, cause behavioural problems, and increases risk of developing breast and prostate cancer later in life.
If you search online, you will still find a lot of reassurance that although bottles made with bisphenol A do leach, they are safe to use. Naturally manufacturers of bisphenol A products, e.g. Tupperware, have issued statements reassuring the safety of their products, including those containing bishenol A (although it should be added that not all Tupperware products contain bisphenol A). Even the FDA has concluded that the "trace amounts of bisphenol A leaching from bottles is not a threat to infants or adults".
All the same, whenever there is controversy over the safety of a product, I believe it is always best to err on the side of caution. Earlier this year, I switched the plastic bottles I was using to store Gavin's water to the stainless steel Klean Kanteen bottles recommended to me by my BFF. Ironically, I was still drinking from polycarbonate bottles myself up until yesterday, although I wouldn't let Gavin have any water from it. It was only when I read about the possible linkage to birth defects and miscarriages that I really sat up and took notice about drinking from polycarbonate bottles myself.
So what are the options if you can't use plastic bottles?
Ideal Bite recommends Biter Bottles, Sigg (aluminum), Klean Kanteen (stainless steel), Nalgene made from HDPE, or glass bottles insulated with neoprene bottle totes (which provide some protection against possible breakage). You can find these brands on Reusablebags.com and Nubius Organics. I can't say I've seen glass bottles being sold these days but VOSS retails their water in reusable glass bottles, although I don't know how much one bottle of this designer water costs.
Although I use Klean Kanteen for Gavin, one of the downsides to this bottle is that it is heavy. Hubby used to grumble about Gavin's go-bag being very heavy and I've realised that the bottle contributes significantly to the added weight. A lighter alternative is an aluminum bottle, like those made by Sigg.
One of the things to be aware of with aluminum bottles is that aluminum is neurotoxic so most of the bottles made with it have an internal coating to prevent contact between the liquids and the aluminum. Sigg bottles are coated with a water-based liner that is not affected by dents in the bottle, acidic beverages or carbonated drinks.
The only problem with the metal bottles is that they cannot carry hot liquids as the container becomes too hot to hold. Although they do have thermal insulated models which you can use if you need to carry hot liquids. Alternatively, Nalgene HDPE claims to have a wide temperature tolerance so these are also a good alternative.
As for baby bottle alternatives, you can look at Born Free, Green to Grow, ThinkBaby on Nubius Organics which are all free from bisphenol A.
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