The Hidden Danger Lurking in BPA-Free Plastic Products

Updated: Jan. 30, 2019

Yep, they aren't as safe as you thought after all.

Syda Productions/Shutterstock

Do you treasure your storage containers? Possess a passion for plastic? If you have any of those blue-lidded containers lining your fridge, you might want to give them a second glance.

By now, common knowledge says that BPA (also called Bisphenol-A), a chemical found in plastic products, is extremely dangerous for our health. Research shows that BPA from plastic containers can leach into our food and beverages, leading to heart problems, cancer, infertility, and other health issues down the road. (It’s also why you should never, ever refill your plastic water bottle.)

But even if your plastic is BPA-free, it could still harbor some scary health hazards. A typical substitute called Bisphenol-S (BPS)—which you’ll find in many BPA-free products—isn’t safe, either, according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

The researchers exposed lab rats to low doses of BPS to mimic what humans would consume in water bottles and other products. That dose increased the heart rates of the female rats, which led to a higher frequency of cardiac arrhythmia (or abnormal heart rhythm), the study reports. Although male rats did not experience the same effects, the overall message couldn’t be clearer.

“The logical conclusion is that, at least in rodents, the effects of exposure to BPS are similar to those of BPA,” David Van Wagoner, PhD, a Cleveland Clinic translational scientist and researcher, said. “Exposure might contribute to the onset of arrhythmias—although the impact of bisphenol exposure relative to other lifestyle and environmental factors is difficult to assess.”

So, what’s a leftovers lover to do? Purging plastic products completely may be your best bet, experts say. Store your food in glass containers instead, to avoid your risk of exposure to those harmful chemicals.

“It doesn’t hurt to be cautious,” Van Wagoner said. “As exposure can be reduced or eliminated by decreasing your use of plastic storage containers for food or drink, this is one way you might reduce your risk of arrhythmia.”

Now that you’ve booted the BPA (and BPS), make sure you aren’t feeding your kids these other toxic foods.