Here we go again. We’ve cleaned out the “bad” plastics from the cupboard. We’ve taught our kids not to use plastics or plastic wrap in the microwave. We’ve replaced sippy cups and plastic water bottles with metal drinking bottles.
But wait. Those metal drinking bottles that have been marketed as eco-friendly and non-harmful? Not safe.
OK, some of them are safe. But it turns out that a high percentage of those SIGG drinking bottles that I’ve purchased over the years for my kids contain traces of BPA.
Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a synthetic and estrogenic chemical used in plastics, including baby bottles and the inside linings of cans. It’s been linked to breast and testicular cancer, obesity, hyperactivity, diabetes, miscarriage and low sperm count in lab animals.
The states of Minnesota and Connecticut have passed laws banning the substance in baby and kid products. In California, a bill to ban the product in baby and toddler products should be voted on within the next two weeks.
Surprisingly, given California’s history of pro-environmental legislation, passing this bill has become a battle.
“It’s a tough fight. The chemical, canned goods and formula industries have dumped a lot of money in lobbying efforts,” says Elisa Batista, who has been working with the organization MomsRising to support passage of the bill in California. Batista also runs a group blog called Mother Talkers — a must-read for progressive moms.
But back to SIGG. As of last week, SIGG issued a voluntary exchange program for its water bottles produced before August 2008. I now have five SIGG bottles, decorated with cute kid designs such as astronauts and race cars, sitting on my kitchen counter with a “DO NOT DRINK” sign on them (of course, that sign failed in the case of Alice in Wonderland, so I’m not sure why it’ll work at my house). These are the very water bottles my kids carried to school in their lunch boxes for the past four years. Makes me want to cuss like a sailor’s parrot.
Here’s the deal: if the inside of your SIGG bottle is brassy and gold, it contains BPA. If the inside is chalky and whitish, the bottle contains the company’s new eco-liner.
SIGG says they have no indication that leaching has occurred in the older bottles, but ours have been through the dishwasher many, many times and some are pretty banged up. So who knows?
Now here’s the plan. Gather all your SIGG water bottles. If any of the linings are evil (as described above), go to the SIGG Web site, then to Exchange Program, and download the instructions. You’ll get replacements, but not cash, sadly.
“This company has benefited greatly financially from the BPA in plastics news. Parents in droves ditched plastic sippys and bottles and bought SIGGs. It’s time to find a better, more honest and straightforward company and product,” writes Katy Farber in her blog, Non-Toxic Kids. Farber recommends Kleen Kanteen products as an option.
I talked to a bulk buyer at Greenlife Grocery, where I purchased my SIGGs, and she says they’ve checked their stock and all the bottles there have the new, BPA-free liners. They also sell Kleen Kanteen bottles.
So why are so many folks concerned about this chemical? Here are a few facts about BPA from a 2007 report from my favorite government health Web site: The Centers for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov: “CDC scientists detected BPA in the urine of nearly 93% of the people tested (aged 6 years and older), a finding that indicates widespread exposure to BPA in the U.S. population. Females had significantly higher levels of BPA in their urine than males. Children had the highest levels, followed by teens and adults.”
BPA is one of the most pervasive chemicals around. We all have it in our bodies. Our babies are BORN with it in their bodies. You can bet if Rachel Carson were still alive, she’d be pissed too. (Carson’s writing about the dangers of synthetic pesticides in the early ‘60s are credited with helping start the environmental movement).
So what’s the North Carolina legislature doing about BPA? It seems to be on the radar, although a proposed House bill addressing BPA isn’t on the fall legislative slate.
At the federal level, bills have been introduced in the House and Senate to ban BPA in all food and beverage containers. That legislation was introduced last March, so it may take a while to pass (if it does). The Food and Drug Administration is reconsidering its decision that BPA is safe at current levels and plans to make a decision by end of November on the chemical’s safety in food and drink containers.
But as we all know, the wheels of government change often roll at an agonizingly slow pace. In the meantime, be cautious about food and drink containers. There are several Web sites that have recommendations on which brands of baby bottles to avoid. One is www.zrecs.blogspot.com.
And get rid of those old SIGG bottles. Dammit.
Anne Fitten “Edgy Mama” Glenn writes about a number of subjects, including parenting, at www.edgymama.com.