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Blog/Opinion: Side effect of plastic: Aggressive kids

Yes we know, everything causes cancer, nothing is safe for our kids, a lot of paranoia, right?


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Sometimes these concerns are for real. A chemical of significant importance to parents and scientists these days is Bisphenol-A (BPA). BPA is a common chemical used in plastics for increased flexibility and molding. It can be found in your child’s plastic sippy cup, binkies, and even canned food. The lining found inside some canned foods is very similar to high density plastics, thus likely to contain significant levels of BPA. Numerous studies have proven that BPA can negatively impact your health. Experts have advised people to shop for BPA-free products. In general, avoiding plastics whenever possible is a good idea.

Read on and read the label before you purchase that pair of dangly keys or canned mac’n’cheese.

Research Reveals Unpleasant News

Leaching is the process of a chemical seeping out of its original binding and into its surroundings (see example here). A university study was conducted to determine the leaching abilities of plastic bottles wherein the interaction between warm liquids and polycarbonate plastics released Bisphenol A (BPA) into the drinking solution. During the Harvard study, each student was given two polycarbonate bottles, which were not to be cleaned in the dishwasher (to void increased heat) and filled only with cold water. The students’ urine samples came back positive for a BPA increase of 69 percent. Is this a concern? The unfortunate answer is “yes” because BPA has been shown to alter the endocrine system causing early sexual development. Changes in fetal development, sperm production, and malfunctioning hormones are also results of BPA ingestion.

Recently, the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill released a study, the first of its kind, linking behavioral problems in children from women that were exposed to BPA during pregnancy. The study measured levels of BPA in urine samples at three different stages of pregnancy- the first at 16 weeks, then at 26 weeks and finally at birth. The results showed that the women who had the highest levels of BPA in their systems at the earliest stages of pregnancy had daughters who were more aggressive and hyperactive. To the scientists’ surprise, girls seemed to be the most affected while boys didn’t have a big difference in aggression but instead became more anxious and depressed. The greatest effects caused seem to be those of the earliest exposures. Most women can be affected even before they know they are pregnant, which can later cause even greater problems for their unborn children. Last year Canada became the first country to ban BPA in baby bottles and Wal-Mart and Toys-R-Us have announced they will stock only BPA-free bottles.

How to drink beverages without worrying about BPA exposure

It used to be simple. If people were worried about BPA exposure, all they needed to do was go out and buy a BPA-free bottle, usually made from aluminum. However, BPA-free doesn’t necessarily mean BPA-free anymore. A major bottle manufacturer, SIGG, revealed that their supposed BPA-free aluminum bottles actually did contain BPA in bottle linings. Another bottle manufacturer, Gaiam, recently revealed that their BPA-free aluminum bottles did contain BPA, 23.8 parts per billion under extreme heat conditions. This amount is ten times more potent than the BPA levels found in SIGG. So what is a worried consumer to do when bottles claiming to be BPA-free aren’t really BPA-free? Fortunately, more and more options are becoming available for the eco-conscious consumer. Here are some alternatives.

  • Stainless steel- Unbreakable, portable, and safe, stainless steel bottles are one of the best reusable bottles to own
  • BPA-free plastics – Look for plastic beverage containers made from high-density polyethylene (#2 HDPE), low density polyethylene (#4 LDPE), or polypropylene (#5 PP).
  • Aluminum bottles – There are manufacturers out there that offer true BPA-free aluminum bottles, just be shopping-savvy
  • Glass
  • Ceramic mugs



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Side effect of plastic: Aggressive kids:  Created on July 28th, 2010.  Last Modified on August 2nd, 2010

About Jennifer Schwab

Jennifer Schwab

As Director of Sustainability, Jennifer is responsible for all environmental information, education, and initiatives at Sierra Club Green

Jennifer studied environmental design and sustainability at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, then completed her Master's in Urban Planning and Sustainable Design at the University of California -- Irvine.  Jennifer is a LEED Accredited Practitioner and serves on the USGBC Education Committee.  She also serves on advisory boards for the UC-Irvine Sustainability Leadership Program and the Healthy House Institute.  Jennifer consults on energy efficiency and sustainability for various corporate clients, restaurants, and hotels.

Jennifer serves as a member of the Board of Advisors for Source 44, a carbon footprint assessment company based in San Diego; and on the Board of Advisors for BlogWorld Expo, the largest social media tradeshow in the country.

She is a widely quoted media analyst appearing in hundreds of articles both in print and online.  She has been interviewed by NY Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, Dwell magazine, CNBC, Good Housekeeping magazine, Fortune magazine, the LA Times, The Oregonian, Forbes, Self magazine, Kiwi magazine, the Examiner, EcoSalon, Consumer Digest, SheKnows, and Planet Green, among many others.  She has also appeared on NBC-U, Good Morning America, and Fox News.

Away from work, Jennifer can be found on the tennis court or in the Bikram yoga studio. She follows art and design avidly and is also a trained Cessna pilot. She also serves on the LA Museum of Contemporary Art Photography Selection committee.  You can find her innermost green thoughts as a contributor to the Huffington Post, LOHAS, BlogHer, Healthy House Institute,, as well as on the home page of


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