Q. I have been concerned about estrogen compounds found in plastic food and water containers. Now that many companies have taken BPA (bisphenol A) out of their products, I am wondering about the replacement chemicals. Are non-BPA plastics really free of hormone-disrupting activity?
A. This is a highly controversial topic with no easy answers. A court battle recently raged in Texas over the question of estrogenic activity in a some non-BPA plastic. Questions were raised about which tests are most helpful in measuring hormone effects.
One study published in Environmental Health Perspectives (online, March 2, 2011) suggested that some non-BPA plastics exposed to detergent or sunlight “release chemicals having EA [estrogenic activity].”
The federal jury in Texas ruled in favor of the Eastman Chemical Company that makes Tritan copolyester material, a substitute for BPA. The conclusion seems to be that plastic made with this compound is free of estrogenic activity. That is reassuring for plastic made with Tritan.
Since it is often hard to determine what chemicals are in your plastic containers, we encourage readers to avoid using plastic in the microwave or washing them in the dishwasher.