The Problem With BPA-free: Alternatives are just as Troubling

BPA-free labels, blazoned on baby toys and beverage holders, are supposed to allay fears about the notorious chemical, previously used in sturdy plastics and epoxy resins. After all, bisphenol A (BPA) has been shown to impersonate hormones such as estrogen, and it is associated—though not definitely linked—to a broad range of health problems, including cancers and cardiovascular disease.

But the “BPA-free” label may simply be a meaningless marketing ploy.

Source: The problem with BPA-free: Alternatives are just as troubling

DOI link?  DOI link!

Glass bottles might make a comeback – borosilicate is awesome stuff, but nothing about the aluminum containers that came available.


Reusable, Sugar-Based Polymer Purifies Water Fast

Clean water is essential, yet in certain parts of the world, it’s very difficult to obtain. Unfortunately, our limited water resources are being polluted by chemicals from industrial plants, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and more.

Adsorbant materials composed of carbon are often used to remove many of these organic pollutants. However, they act slowly, typically miss hydrophilic micropollutants, and can be difficult to reuse.

Scientists working on developing inexpensive materials that can purify water quickly have been working with an insoluble polymer called β-cyclodextrin (β-CD)—a big loop of linked sugar molecules. Recently, they’ve discovered a way to cross-link β-CD using aromatic groups forming a porous, cross-linked complex. The porous, cross-linked β-CD has an increased surface area that significantly speeds the removal of pollutants.

Source: Reusable, sugar-based polymer purifies water fast

Cyclodextrin is a well known material that basically traps materials in its interior core. It’s actually one of the main ingredients in Febreze because it can trap small odor causing materials and “deactivate” it which is why febreze works for odor elimination (as opposed to perfume based products which just cover it).

The unique science here is the cross-linking effect which solves some of the issues with cyclodextrin by making it bigger, less water soluble, bigger surface area, etc. It however still doesn’t solve some of the other issues with cyclodextrin, such as its general preference for hydrophilic materials (which is ok if its designed for water based systems), loading rates (one molecule of cyclodextrin can’t hold much), size limitations (has to fit inside the core which means big molecules are out, and etc other issues (there’s a reason cyclodextrin is not being used everywhere already).

Cool results but would like to see how it truly performs in a real use scenario with many more varied and complex pollutants. For example – antibacterial/parasite effects is in general more important than trace amounts of BPA for the regions/use they’re targeting. Most of the people who need clean water are much more worried about dysentery than they are about trace BPA…

If it’s cheaper than carbon, could this potentially something that could scale to an affordable whole-house water filter?

Chemicals Not Considered Carcinogenic May Still Cause Cancer When Combined

It’s well-known that certain substances like asbestos cause cancer. Now, new research shows that combined effects of chemicals not thought to be carcinogenic on their own may be a significant cause of the deadly disease.

Source: Chemicals not thought to be carcinogenic may still cause cancer when combined

It makes sense, and some have raised the alarm about beauty products in particular.  But you’d have to figure we’d have seen a rise in cancer and some sort of correlation, rather than someone trying to backtrack.

Study: BPS, BPA Alternative, Just as Bad

In a groundbreaking study, researchers have shown why a chemical once thought to be a safe alternative to bisphenol-A, which was abandoned by manufacturers of baby bottles and sippy cups after a public outcry, might itself be more harmful than BPA.

…BPA is an industrial chemical found in many polycarbonate plastics as well as epoxy resins, which are used to coat the inside of food cans. Over the past few years, dozens of studies have linked BPA, which mimics estrogen, with prostate cancer, infertility, asthma, heart disease and a number of neurodevelopmental disorders.

Source: BPA alternative disrupts normal brain-cell growth, is tied to hyperactivity, study says

Plastics are made from petroleum and a vast array of crazy modifying chemicals. We add chemicals to them to make them weatherproof, to color them, to prevent the color from bleeding, to prevent the plastic from hardening, to allow them to resist high temperature, to be soft, etc. Pretty much all of these chemicals are some form of noxious, often featuring a solvent, a chemical group that’s hardly ever friendly. The original petroleum product isn’t much better. At what point will we stop being surprised that petroleum products are unhealthy?

Look around your desk and ask which products will stop existing when we run out of oil. I’ll give you a hint, it’s anything with plastic in it.