There's some exciting news for consumers concerned about BPA (bisphenol-A), the chemical found in hundreds of items including canned foods and sodas, plastic containers, and a number of household products that is linked to serious health risks. A team of chemists claim to have created a safer and more eco-friendly alternative derived from a waste product of the paper industry.
BPA is the source of much debate here in the U.S. It's banned in Europe and was recently banned by the FDA from certain baby products. But it is found elsewhere in such abundance that concerned consumers fear there's no avoiding the chemical and its endocrine disrupting effects. It's also been linked with cancer and heart disease.
According to TakePart.com, University of Delaware researchers have created "bisguaiacol-F" or BGF, out of lignin, which is produced when wood is pulped. It could be on the market within the next five years, offering consumers a safe alternative to BPA products.
"We know the molecular structure of BPA plays a large role in disrupting our natural hormones, specifically estrogen," said Kaleigh Reno, a graduate student involved in the research. "We used this knowledge in designing BGF such that it is incapable of interfering with hormones but retains the desirable thermal and mechanical properties of BPA."
Current "BPA-free" alternatives may be as harmful or more harmful than BPA, recent research finds. And a healthier alternative, like BGF could save the country close to $2 billion in health care costs related to exposure to BPA (and current alternatives).
"This approach considerably simplifies the design of new bio-based materials since we can predetermine properties and screen for toxicity for a broad range of potential compounds from renewable resources such as lignin and plant oils," Wool said in a statement.
Another significant benefit to BGF is that unlike BPA, it's not derived from fossil fuels. The researchers note that 70 million tons of lignin are produced each year (and much is already used for energy recovery) and BGF would make use of this waste product as "a viable environmental and economic alternative," reports TakePart.
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