10 Ways to Reduce Exposure to BPA at Home

Learn how to avoid certain canned goods, receipts, toys, and more.

Plastic plates and cups on a shelf

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Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a chemical compound found in everything from the metal lining of your canned foods to the receipts from gas station cash registers.

Used in the manufacturing of epoxy resin and polycarbonate plastics, BPA is a known endocrine disruptor—meaning it can mimic the structure and function of the hormone estrogen, affecting the body’s natural production and response of natural hormones. As a result, the chemical has been linked to a multitude of health concerns.

When these plastics eventually find their way into landfills, they risk inducing the same complications on wildlife. At the same time, the production of BPA-containing plastics can also create pollution in the local environment.

In a 2021 meta-analysis of 28,353 adults, BPA was detected in over 90% of participants, strongly suggesting that the chemical is nearly impossible to avoid among the general population.

Although the jury is still out as to whether or not BPA substitutions represent truly healthier or more eco-friendly alternatives, if you do want to limit your BPA use, the following tips will help.

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Limit Your Canned and Packaged Food

Canned food

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Since most people are primarily exposed to BPA through their diets, limiting your consumption of canned and packaged foods could reduce your chance of being exposed to the chemical.

This includes canned foods like fruits and vegetables (manufacturers use BPA in the lining to avoid metal contamination) and products packaged in plastic like disposable water bottles and soda or beer cans.

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If You Can’t Limit Canned Food, Remember to Rinse

Rinsing chickpeas in the sink

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Sadly, we live in a world where raw, fresh, and unprocessed food isn’t available to everyone, but there are still ways to reduce your BPA exposure even if you’re limited to canned ingredients.

A 2020 experiment published by Cambridge University Press found that rinsing canned vegetables was an effective method for reducing BPA, and could lower exposure to the chemical by nearly three times. Rinsing may help reduce other additives as well, such as sodium or sugar.

Another option is to buy frozen fruit and veggies if you can’t find them fresh, or opt for dried beans instead of canned (the same study found that dried beans had the least amount of BPA exposure).

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Don't Heat Your Food in Plastic Containers

Heating leftover in a microwave in a plastic container

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Since BPA can break down from high temperatures over time, the amount of the chemical that leaches into the food or beverage increases if the container is heated. That means heating your food in a plastic container in the microwave can up your chances of being exposed to BPA.

Similarly, plastic water bottles are more likely to expel BPA when water is left in reusable water containers in high temperatures.

According to an independent study where researchers exposed different types of containers to high heat, you are much better off using glass or uncoated stainless steel for your water bottles and food containers.

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Do Your Research

Generic BPA free label

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Look for a “No BPA” label on the products you purchase and don’t forget that BPA isn’t limited to the obvious hard plastics—it’s also common in paper products, to-go food containers, and soda cans.

To help consumers discover which products are linked to the chemical, the Environmental Working Group compiled a database of almost 16,000 specific processed food and drinks packaged in materials that may contain BPA.

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Look for Food in Glass Jars

Preserved food in glass jars

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More and more companies are choosing to package their products in reusable glass containers. While these can sometimes be more expensive than the canned versions, they may be a better investment in the long run.

In addition, glass bottles and jars are 100% recyclable, so they can be recycled endlessly without loss of quality. Even better, they are also reusable, so you can wash them out and continue to use them for food storage or other uses.

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Swap Out Your Automatic Coffee Maker

Coffee pods and automatic coffee maker

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Automatic coffee makers made from plastic may have BPA in their containers and tubing, distributing the chemical straight into your morning cup of joe.

There could also be BPA in your coffee capsules, according to a 2020 experiment in Toxicology Reports, which found the BPA was the second most common estrogenic chemical in capsule coffee. While the levels detected were low relative to established safety guidelines, the study suggested that future research be conducted on the health risk from chronic coffee consumption.

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Choose Non-Plastic Tableware

Ceramic plates, mugs, and bowls on a shelf

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Hard plastics, like those used for heavy-duty plates and bowls, are some of the most common products containing BPA in the kitchen.

Since the amount of the chemical that leaches out of the product increases when it is scratched, damaged, or heated, the longer they’re kept the more likely they are to expose you or your family to BPA. Instead, eat your meals on glass or ceramic plates.

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Be Mindful of Baby Products

Baby with wooden rattle

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Although the FDA banned the use of BPA in sippy cups and baby bottles back in 2012, older cups or those produced in other countries may still contain traces of BPA. The agency also banned the use of BPA-based epoxy resins as coatings in packaging for infant formula in 2013.

Plastic baby toys (like those used for teething) may still contain BPA, though more and more manufacturers are choosing to offer BPA-free options.

If you want to go no-plastic completely, look for wooden baby toys or ones made from non-plastic materials.

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Check Recycling Codes

Recycling bin outside doorstep

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Although these numbers don’t necessarily guarantee BPA-free products, some plastics marked with recycling codes 3, 6, or 7 may contain the chemical compound.

On the other hand, numbers 1, 2, 4, and 5 are unlikely to contain BPA and are generally easier to recycle as well.

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Turn Down Paper Receipts

Thermal paper receipt

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The thermal paper used for receipts in cash registers, credit card terminals, and restaurants is lined with BPA to allow for inkless printing. Studies have shown that handling the receipt can transfer the chemical to the skin, where it can then migrate into the bloodstream.

When people handle receipts printed on this thermal paper, the BPA could linger in the body for nine days or more. Because of this, employees who regularly handle receipts, such as servers, cashiers, or librarians, can be subject to higher BPA exposure rates.

Originally written by
Larry West

Larry West is an award-winning environmental journalist and writer. He won the Edward J. Meeman Award for Environmental Reporting.

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