Four reasons 'BPA-free' won't protect you

Plus: What you can do to make sure hazardous chemicals are properly regulated

Children are particularly susceptible to the effects of BPA and similar chemicals, research shows, even in very small quantities.

Rachel Monroe/Flickr


A walk through the baby aisle of any pharmacy will reveal a sea of products shouting "BPA-free" on their packaging.

Bisphenol-A — better known as BPA — is an industrial chemical that's used in many household plastics and food packages. Capable of interfering with the body's hormones, particularly estrogen, scientists have linked BPA exposure to diseases like cancer and diabetes.

With these hazards, the logical solution seemingly would be to shop BPA-free. Unfortunately, it's not really a solution.

What's wrong with BPA-free?

  1. BPA is in more products than you think.
    BPA is so pervasive it’s practically unavoidable. In 2012 the FDA banned it from baby bottles and sippy cups— but it remains used in many other ways, like canned food, water bottles and receipt paper.

  2. When BPA is removed, it’s often replaced with a similarly dangerous chemical.
    This is known as "regrettable substitution," and there's no one charged with ensuring replacements are any safer.

  3. Regrettable substitution is a problem not just for BPA, but thousands of chemicals.
    So even if you do manage to limit BPA exposure, you still may be exposed to other chemical hazards, including carcinogens and neurotoxins.

  4. Federal laws regulating everyday chemicals are weak and outdated.
    The main law that's meant to protect us from harm, the Toxic Substances Control Act, is nearly 40 years old and ineffective. Unlike prescription drugs, companies can sell and use chemicals without showing they’re safe.

What can you do?

"We have to press the government to require that this chemical and all chemicals we use around our homes are shown to be safe," says Sarah Vogel, EDF's Health Director. "Federal action is the only way we can solve this large-scale problem."

By making sure lawmakers are hearing loud and clear that we support strong reforms of our chemical safety laws, we can bring about change for the better. Join more than 105,000 EDF members who have voiced their support for safer chemicals in household products. By signing up, you can be part of the solution.

How you can fix this: Alert your local leaders

The dangerously weak Toxic Substances Control Act is badly outdated and in need of major reform. We need your help to make sure your Senators know that protecting American families from exposure to harmful chemicals is important to you!

Demand stronger toxic chemicals rules