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Bisphenol A

Baby Bottle
Happy news! The chemical BPA was found in very few baby bottles and sippy cups in a 2013 study in Washington State.

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a chemical used to make a hard clear plastic called polycarbonate, some sealants, and thermal paper such as the paper used to print cash register receipts.

Most of us living in the United States have BPA in our bodies, but the human health effects are unknown. Our main sources of BPA are household products. Today, fewer products contain BPA than in 2010 because of efforts by Washington State, federal agencies and some product manufacturers.

What products have BPA?

BPA enters our bodies mainly through food and beverages that have been in contact with polycarbonate.

  • Canned foods, because most metal cans are lined with a sealant containing BPA.
  • Sports water bottles may contain BPA if bought before July 2012.
  • Baby bottles, sippy cups and other containers designed for children 3 years old and younger may contain BPA if bought before July 2011.
  • BPAOther hard, clear plastic food or beverage containers. This symbol means it may contain BPA.
  • Cash register receipts.

BPA-free products

  • BPA CartonBaby bottles, sippy cups and other containers for children 3 years old and younger, if purchased in Washington state after July 1, 2011.
  • Sports bottles up to 64 oz., if purchased in Washington state after July 1, 2012.
  • Glass and stainless steel containers with no plastic linings.
  • Brick-shaped cardboard cartons (like juice boxes) used for food packaging. Cartons made by Tetra Pak or SIG Combibloc do not contain BPA. Look for those names on the bottom of the carton.
  • A few canned food producers voluntarily use BPA-free linings. Some put “BPA-free” on the label but many do not. So, it is hard for shoppers to identify BPA-free canned food. Producers are looking for safer linings.
  • Plastic containers labeled with a 1, 2 or 5.

The concerns about BPA

Human exposure to BPA is widespread. A survey of the U.S. population found BPA in 93 percent of urine samples from people age 6 and older. 1

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Toxicology Program agree that recent studies provide reason for some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children. 2

Reduce your exposure to BPA

Find tips to reduce infant’s exposure to BPA.

The best way to reduce your BPA exposure is to avoid household products that contain BPA.

Food choices:

  • Eat fresh and frozen foods instead of foods stored in cans.
  • Purchase foods packaged in glass containers, ceramic containers or cardboard brick-shaped cartons. Juice boxes are an example of a cardboard brick-shaped carton. Look on the bottom to see if it was made by Tetra Pak or SIG Combibloc.

Food containers already at home:

  • Replace pre-2011 baby bottles, sippy cups, water bottles and other hard, clear plastic food storage containers. 3
  • Throw away cracked or scratched plastic containers. Recycle them if possible (ask your local recycling program) or put them in garbage.
  • Use glass or unlined stainless steel water bottles.
  • Keep plastic containers labeled with a 1, 2 or 5; they do not contain BPA or other plastic chemicals of concern. BPA
  • Dispose of plastic containers labeled with a 7 inside the recycle symbol. Although not all 7 plastics contain BPA, it’s not easy to tell which contain BPA and which don’t.

Safer practices for food containers made of polycarbonate:

  • Use polycarbonate plastic for cold storage and for non-food items.
  • Heat food in glass, ceramic or stainless steel containers. In polycarbonate containers, heat leaches more BPA into foods and liquids.
  • Wash polycarbonate containers by hand instead of in the dishwasher to prevent scratching. Scratching releases more BPA.

Safer practices for receipts

  • Wash your hands after handling receipts
  • Consider putting gloves on before handling a lot of receipts

Recent state and federal actions


February, Washington Department of Ecology tested 74 products purchased from retailers and found that 96% did not contain BPA. Baby bottles, sippy cups, toddler containers, sports bottles and others were tested.


August, manufacturers of children’s products began reporting to the Washington State Department of Ecology if their products contained BPA, per the Children’s Safe Products Act.

July, sports bottles sold in Washington may no longer contain BPA.

July, the FDA issued a final rule that no longer allows polycarbonate resins in baby bottles and sippy cups. This decision was based on evidence that manufacturers of those products have already abandoned polycarbonate.

July, Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Design for the Environment program researched safer alternatives to BPA used in thermal paper receipts, in partnership with interested parties such as manufacturers, distributors and retail users. The draft report was published in July and the final report is anticipated by the Winter of 2013.

March, the FDA recommended taking reasonable steps to reduce human exposure to BPA in the food supply. In cooperation with other agencies, FDA plans additional studies over the next several years.


August, BPA was included on Washington’s Reporting List of Chemicals of High Concern to Children.

July, food and beverage containers intended for children under age 3 sold in Washington may no longer contain BPA. Metal cans with interior coatings containing BPA are exempt (i.e., may still contain BPA).


March, Washington State enacted Chapter 70.280 RCW, with a schedule for banning BPA from certain products

January, the FDA revised its position on BPA's safety, noting "some concern" about its effects on children and infants. Previously, the FDA had held that trace amounts of BPA from food containers are not harmful.

More information

1. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

2. U.S. FDA, Bisphenol A (BPA): Use in Food Contact Application

3. Before July 2011, some retailers voluntarily sold BPA-free products. If you know your plastic food containers are “BPA-free,” continue to use them. Otherwise, we recommend replacing them.