You’ve heard the mantra countless times, “Drink more water.” You dutifully buy plastic water bottles in bulk, carry one with you, and keep them in the car and at the office. But your efforts to stay well-hydrated may not be as healthy as you think. Most plastic water bottles are made with a chemical called Bisphenol-A, also known as BPA. Every sip you take from a water bottle made with BPA may be poisoning your body.

Why You Should Beware of BPA
A growing body of evidence-based research in labs, on animals, and even on humans, suggests that BPA is a highly toxic chemical that may be linked to health problems such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, birth defects, weakened tooth enamel, and more. When you drink from a plastic bottle made with BPA, this chemical can leach out of the plastic and end up in your body – not exactly what you had in mind when you take a swig of purified water from one of those bottles, right?

The BPA problem is actually a lot bigger than just water bottles. This chemical is still used ubiquitously to make other plastic bottles, containers and food packaging. It’s even in the ink used to print store receipts from your purchases on thermal paper. BPA poses some serious health risks that public health professionals are just beginning to understand.

Two years ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the use of BPA in children’s sippy cups and baby bottles. While the federal government has yet to establish a nationwide ban on the use of BPA in other products, communities across the country are proposing bans on plastic bottle sales and protesting the use of BPA in plastic packaging for both environmental and health reasons.

Here are five ways you can reduce BPA exposure in your life:

  1. Look for the BPA-Free label. Avoid plastics labeled with Code 3 or Code 7, some of which have been known to contain BPA.
  2. Limit canned food consumptionA consumer reports study found nearly all canned foods were contaminated with BPA.  Choose to buy more fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables.
  3. Choose non-plastic containers. Glass, ceramic, wood, porcelain and stainless steel containers aren’t made with BPA.
  4. Use new bottles. Older containers made with BPA  can leach more of the chemical and increase your exposure.
  5. Never use the microwave to reheat plastic containers. Instead, reheat foods or liquids in microwave-safe containers not made with BPA.

It’ll be a long and slow process before widespread BPA regulations are in place, so in the meantime, lowering exposure to BPA – for yourself and the ones you love – is a good preventive measure for overall health.