Ask G

Ask G: Bagging plastic

Does plastic contain harmful chemicals?

Is it true that plastics have cancer-causing substances that leak out and can harm me? Which plastic have these?

bottled water

The plastic in bottled water contains BPA, which is rumoured to be hazardous to humans.

Credit: everystockphoto

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The timing of your question makes me think you might have heard media reports about Bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is a chemical used to make polycarbonate plastics and synthetic resins.

It is also an endocrine disruptor (see here for what that is).

Earlier this year, several governments around the world began questioning its safety in food packaging, giving it a huge amount of bad press, and more so since the Canadian government announced its intention of banning baby bottles containing BPA.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand has put out a statement that "Bisphenol A does not cause cancer" and committed to keep abreast of developments and reviews from overseas regulatory agencies.

Similarly, the US Food and Drug Administration feels that the very low levels of BPA that end up in food are not a cause for concern and remind consumers that they can use glass alternatives instead.

Meanwhile, a number of baby bottle manufacturers and retailers have been unnerved by consumer concern and voluntarily stopped making or selling BPA containing baby products.

See here for more information about the chemicals in bottled water.