Bisphenol A (BPA), found in many household products, including reusable water bottles, may harm a foetus in high doses but is thought safe at the low levels of exposure usually encountered. Phthalates are also in many everyday products.
It’s virtually impossible to avoid all contact with these chemicals and there’s no evidence that they have a significant effect on fertility, so my advice is to avoid more established harms such as nicotine, alcohol and stress.
Although it’s unlikely that exposure to these chemicals is stopping you becoming pregnant, there is evidence that they interfere with reproductive hormones, so cutting down on food and drink stored in plastic and tins is a good idea. Try a glass water bottle.
BPA and phthalates may reduce the reproductive ability of men and women, according to a Danish study two decades ago and other studies in recent years in America.
It’s advisable that couples who are pregnant or attempting to be should avoid contact with potential sources of phthalates or BPA.
Always consult a medical practitioner if your symptoms persist.
Britain and other EU member states are opposing a new law which would ban a common chemical which has been linked to breast cancer, heart disease, obesity and other conditions.
The UK, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Italy, Slovenia and Spain have objected to a French plan to ban bisphenol A, or BPA, from food packaging by 2014, saying the move – arising from a hazard assessment by France’s Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety – would breach trade rules. In Britain, the BPA is deemed to be safe by the Food Standards Agency. The UK has told the European Commission the draft French law does not follow sound science.
Elizabeth Salter Green, director of the pressure group Chem Trust, said: “The UK is trying to scupper the French ban, but it is not alone. Many member states seem to want to stop the French initiative. I feel this is very much a reflection of what industry wants. The UK does not manufacture BPA, but we do use it a lot in consumer products.”
The row is the latest twist in the scientific and political dispute over the plastics hardener, which mimics the female hormone oestrogen – and is found in televisions, mobile phones, flooring, dental sealants and the plastic lining inside food and drink cans.
Peer-reviewed scientific studies have found that in animals BPA increases cell mutations associated with the development of cancer. Studies have also found that humans with high levels of the chemical have more heart disease. Links have also been made between BPA and obesity and diabetes. However, industry groups insist BPA is safe, and scientists are divided as to whether it is harmful.
Regulators around the world take differing views. In 2010, the US Food and Drug Administration began supporting efforts by manufacturers to remove BPA from baby bottles and infant feeding cups and to replace it in food-can linings; but this year the FDA rejected an outright ban in food packaging, saying the science was still uncertain.
The European Commission banned BPA from baby bottles in 2011, but the European Food Safety Authority has concluded consumers are not at risk from exposure to BPA leaching into food, and has criticised the methodology of scientific studies concluding otherwise.
Heinz and Campbell’s, two of the world’s biggest food manufacturers, are publicly committed to removing BPA.
France’s Health Minister Xavier Bertrand has backed the ban, which was proposed by Michèle Delaunay, a doctor and member of France’s Socialist Party, who warned that the chemical could be behind cases of young girls prematurely developing breasts.
In September last year, Ms Delaunay said: “The chemical poses other risks. It can be responsible for obesity, cardiovascular diseases and could possibly increase the risk of cancer.”