In the plastic containers of baby products, but also cans, clothing and leather objects, bisphenol, or rather the bisphenolsshould not be present or be there in limited quantities, because harmful to humans and the environment. A survey released by Altroconsumo shows that the youngest and most vulnerable consumers, children, are most exposed to this risk.
What are bisphenols
It’s about a group of chemical compounds widely used in plastic materials, in the resins that protect the objects, in the leather, but also in the thermal paper (that of the receipts). Particularly some, such as the best known bisphenol A (or Bpa), are endocrine disruptors, or substances that interact with the hormonal system of our body. Therefore, these compounds should be limited, or in some cases banned, in baby products and materials in contact with food.
The products most at risk
To understand how much they are present in everyday objects, especially those used by children, Altroconsumo, together with other European consumer organizations, brought dozens of products into the laboratory. Out of 179 samples divided between textiles (covers, tights and bibs and baby shoes), plastic objects (bottles, teethers for babies and sunglasses for children), food and drinks contained in coated iron cans and aluminum cans, well 79 (44%) contain bisphenols considered to be of concernor release one or more of these substances in high quantities through their use, for example through contact with the user’s mouth or skin.
These are not illegal products – clarifies the organization – in all cases these products comply with current regulations and do not pose an immediate danger for consumer health. However, the big picture is worrying: the risk of excessive exposure to these substances using everyday plastic items or synthetic clothing, or by consuming canned foods and beverages it’s really concrete.
The results of the survey
“More than 60% of plastic products we analyzed – underlines Altroconsumo – from children’s sunglasses to teethers, releases from one to six different types of bisphenol, including the infamous Bpa”.
All of this proves that it is necessary to review the legislation, from a more precautionary point of viewto ensure a lower level of exposure to these substances, particularly in children.
The BEUC – the representation in Europe of various consumer organizations including Altroconsumo – following the results of this investigation, is asking for rules for all product categories, and is pushing for all bisphenols to be regulated, especially to protect children from a multiple exposures whose health effects are not yet clear.
The measures envisaged at European level
The EU has adopted various regulations concerning the use of bisphenols in consumer products – Altroconsumo recalls – In particular, it has focused on the Bpathe bisphenol on which there are more toxicity data. The European Chemicals Agency (Echa) has classified it as a substance of very high concern (Svhc) due to its ability to interfere with the hormonal system.
The use of Bpa, therefore, based on Reach regulation (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) is always subject to authorisation. In 2011, for example, BPA was banned in the production of baby bottles and in 2016 the European Commission restricted it in the thermal paper used for receipts. However the use of other bisphenols, such as Bps and Bpf, is not currently restricted by EU law, even though the toxicity of these substances is very similar and is under review by the European Chemicals Agency.
In 2021, the Echa proposed a restriction on the use of Bpa, Bps and other bisphenols in thermal paper, as well as in some types of consumer products, such as food contact materials and medical devices, but the proposal is still under consideration by the European Commission.
How to reduce exposure to bisphenols
The Istituto Superiore di Sanità has drawn up a series of practical advice to minimize exposure to this type of substance.
The first tip is to eat mealsWhen possible, using materials such as glass, ceramic or stainless steel, limiting plastic, even in drinks. Furthermore, do not heat food in the microwave with inappropriate plastic containers and, if it is a ready-to-eat food, check that the container is suitable for microwave cooking (usually indicated). Limitate the consumption of convenience foods if prepared and distributed in plastic containers. As for very young children, be careful with plastic toys and make sure they don’t put them in their mouths. Finally, on contact exposure through fabrics, better to choose garments made with natural fiberssuch as cotton, wool or silk, which are less likely to contain Bpa or other bisphenols.