While a camper at Camp Hanover, I fell in love with Virginia’s rivers and pursued a career as an environmental biologist with the state. However, I hit the glass ceiling and was told I could never work in the field because I was a woman; so I ended up with a career teaching science. My concern for protection of our environment never wavered, and I wove it into many chemistry lessons. Today I pay attention to decisions I make every day and their impact on our planet. Plastic water bottles may be one of the worst decisions we as Americans have ever made.
Web MD describes BPA as a chemical that has been used” to harden plastics” for over forty years. They also state that 90% of Americans have BPA in their bodies and that it came from foods that were stored in plastic containers. BPA stands for bisphenol A. At this time there are no restrictions on the inclusion of this chemical in any containers although many baby bottles that contained the chemical have been removed from the market. Many researchers, including a scientist that I know personally, think that it works in the body like a hormone. Some scientists think that it will disrupt the hormonal balances in young children. It has been mentioned as a brain disrupter too. A very common thought is that it may affect egg maturation in females and increase the risk of erectile dysfunction in males. High levels of BPA in urine seem to be related to type 2 diabetes.
BPA is found in epoxy resins which are used to line food and drink cans and in many polycarbonate plastic food containers, water bottles and bottle tops. The Mayo Clinic offers these suggestions:
Use BPA-free products. Look for products labeled as BPA-free. Avoid plastics marked with recycle codes 3 or 7; they may be made with BPA.
Cut back on cans. Reduce your use of canned foods since most cans are lined with BPA-containing resin.
Avoid heat. Avoid microwaving polycarbonate plastics or putting them in the dishwasher, because the plastic may break down over time and allow BPA to leach into foods.
Use alternatives. Use glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers for hot foods and liquids instead of plastic containers.
Even if we do all of these things, the old containers and plastic bottles are going into landfills or into the ocean and affecting organisms there.
So the next time you are planning to buy a case of bottled water or just one bottle at a store; reconsider and think about getting and using one good BPA free water bottle and eating fresh vegetables rather than canned ones. You may be doing yourself and your planet a big favor.
Your scientist with a heart, Mary Frances Hobbs
I have been a member of GPPC since 1979. Tom and I raised our two sons here and still enjoy being a part of this community. I was a classroom chemistry teacher for many years, then a visiting science teacher in chemistry, environmental science, and nanoscience, and finally a mentor to other science teachers. Four years ago, I began training as a Feldenkrais teacher and practitioner and have now graduated and am enjoying helping people [see photo] with joint issues, accident recovery, and a desire to move easier. The best part is the Feldenkrais work allows me to be active and spend time with my grandchildren – who range in age from 16 months to twenty years old.