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Out and About: Shift of change

The Canadian government officially placed Bisphenol A (BPA) on the country's toxic substance list.

The Canadian government officially placed Bisphenol A (BPA) on the country's toxic substance list. Many have been anticipating this move since the government proposed declared BPA as toxic in 2008, because it is an endocrine disruptor and it has negative effects on the environment.

Bisphenol A is a synthetic chemical compound used in a wide range of products, including hard, clear plastic reusable water bottles and baby bottles, dental sealants and the linings of many food cans.

Since BPA is found in commonplace consumer products, everyone is exposed to this toxic chemical, so everyone should be concerned about its use in those products.

As an endocrine disruptor, BPA can wreck havoc with hormones. It is linked to increased risk of heart disease and diabetes; permanent changes to genital tract; increase prostate weight; decline in testosterone; breast cells predisposed to cancer; prostate cells more sensitive to hormones and cancer; and hyperactivity.

These problems can occur at even low levels of exposure to BPA.

Health Canada's assessment, of this now toxic chemical, noted it can affect a fetus in the womb. BPA has been detected in breast milk and in infant formula at nearly the same levels, which has prompted a ban of BPA in baby milk bottles. Adding BPA to the country's toxic substance list will help to ensure levels are minimized all together, and therefore will inevitably lead to lower levels in breast milk.

Further, BPA has been found to be toxic to aquatic organisms, and since it has been found in surface waters, sediment, groundwater and other areas in the environment, the government took a much needed step in putting BPA on the toxic substances list.

Of course this is just the first step, and we may well be five or so years away from seeing any new regulations regarding the use of BPA in Canada. However, I find this interesting because I see it as symptomatic of an overall shift in, not just our country but, the entire world toward more natural, earth-friendly products.

Just take a look at the shelves in our stores. When I graduated high school seven or so years ago, the only places I could find so-called "natural" cleaning products were in the out-of-the-way health food store and my own kitchen.

(I found the internet was a very useful tool as many other earth-conscious people like myself posted their recipes for cleaning products on-line. Most of them used ingredients from my kitchen, like vinegar and lemon juice. Interestingly enough, when I talked to my grandma about these "recipes" she told me that's what everyone used to clean with until companies began producing synthetic chemicals.)

Today I can walk into virtually any store, in even the smallest communities, and find at the least, an earth-friendly all-purpose cleaner.

Organic foods are another example.

As little as five years ago these products were difficult to find and now they are popping up in pretty much every store. Of course some places are more ahead of the times.

(For example, any mountain town I visit is always over-flowing with organic produce and other organic items. But the main reason these communities would be ahead of the times is because the consumers demand it. There is no reason every place couldn't offer more; it's simply a matter of the consumers demanding it be available.)

But there are always those places who are willing to take a proactive approach before the consumers demand it.

In terms of BPA, the Swiss company Sigg responded by removing the substance from all its future production of its stainless-steel water bottles.

Now I had one of these funky looking (they all have fun designs) water bottles five years ago before BPA was really ever a known concern. I bought mine simply because I wanted a good reusable water bottle and I didn't want to follow the trend and go with one of those hard plastic Nalogene bottles everyone seemed to have those days.

Turns out those Nalogene bottles were full of BPA. But then again, the Sigg bottles were lined with the chemical too. Now both companies removed the substance after it became an issue, but I applaud Sigg more so because the company offered to replace every bottle made before a certain date (which therefore included BPA in the lining) free of charge.

The company had a reputation to uphold and in my opinion did a stand-up job doing so.

So while we may still be a few years away from seeing government regulations regarding BPA in place, there will always be companies who decide they aren't going to wait and start making changes now.

And it's in my opinion, those are the companies that will retain or even gain the most customers in the coming years as we make a deliberate shift towards caring more for the health of our bodies and the health of our planet.

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