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FDA Bans BPA, But Alternatives Might Be Worse

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Bisphenol A, also known as BPA, has been a rallying point for parents everywhere. Once we found out about problems associated with the industrial chemical, which is used to harden plastics used in food storage containers, water bottles, toys and other consumer goods, we raised such a ruckus that the substance was banned for use in bottles and sippy cups in 11 states.

On Tuesday, the FDA announced a nation-wide ban on the substance in bottles and sippy cups. Huzzah!

But BPA is still a bad word for many parents who "vote with their dollars" by refusing to buy these products, so the chemical industry is looking for options.

A new study published this week found bisphenol S, a BPA alternative, on all cash register paper in the United States, Japan, Korea and Vietnam, as well as on 87% of paper currency and 52% of recycled paper in these countries.

The authors reported that BPS has some of the same estrogen-mimicking effects of BPA, and that people may now be absorbing 19 times more BPS through their skin than when BPA was used to coat paper.

As parents, why should we be worried about these chemicals? Well, first off, as this new study proves, they're everywhere -- even on receipts and money, ubiquitous to daily life. Our kids are exposed to them through multiple sources practically 24/7.

But more specifically, they mimic estrogen in the body, thus tricking it into starting the process of puberty earlier than necessary.

As I wrote in a post about my moody pre-pubescent daughter last year, a study originally published in Pediatrics found that one in 10 girls have already begun developing breasts -- the first sign of puberty -- by the age of 8, and that one of the causes might be exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals like BPA.

And recent research has shown even more serious problems, like that which was recently published in the International Journal of Clinical Oncology, which showed a link between a common brain tumor called meningloma and BPA.

What can you do? In addition to limiting your use of plastic, which I shared some tips on recently, and washing your hands, which can not only limit BPA/BPS exposure but help protect your family from flame retardants, too, consider employing the "no, thanks" method of protection.

Try to use credit cards instead of cash, and in the same way you might politely decline a plastic bag, just ask the cashier to throw away your register receipt. You already have the transaction recorded online and on your statement, should you require a paper trail; do you really need it in your wallet, too?