BCPP Diaries

BCPP Spring 2018

BCPP Spring 2018

At BCPP, we stay busy taking on the government and corporations on behalf of your health. And what a busy last quarter it has been! Check out our bulletin below to see what we’ve been up to the past couple of months.Read More

We’re suing over carcinogenic ‘flavors’

In May, BCPP and a coalition of health, consumer, and environmental advocacy organizations led by Earthjustice, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit aimed at forcing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prohibit the use of seven cancer-causing artificial chemicals to add flavor to food. These chemicals are used in beverages, baked goods, candy, chewing gum, and ice cream (think household favorites like Mentos, Altoids, Life Savers and Red Hots)!

“Chemicals linked to breast cancer, like benzophenone and styrene, should not be hiding in the foods we feed our children. It’s time for the FDA to protect the public health by immediately banning the use of carcinogens masquerading as ‘flavors’ in our food.” Read our press release here.

Science, not silence!

Last month, BCPP joined 68 other national health, medical, academic, and scientific groups to say NO to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “transparency” rule which would place unreasonable restrictions on the science it can use. We strongly oppose the EPA’s efforts to restrict the use of the best available science in its policymaking. Read more about it here.

We are 200,000 strong

We asked you to take action against deadly paint strippers and Lowe’s Home Improvement listened! The team at BCPP is so thankful to all of you who joined action takers from the Mind the Store coalition and helped convince this industry giant to become the first major U.S. retailer to commit to end the sale of these harmful products. Our voices truly matter. Thank you for your commitment to hold corporations accountable for the health of people and the planet!

Salon Product Ingredient Disclosure (AB 2775)

Salon workers, who are overwhelmingly women, are exposed to a broad array of very toxic chemicals in the nail, hair, and beauty products they work with every day. Cosmetologists and their customers don’t have access to information about the toxicity of these products because the law does not require a list of the ingredients in professional salon products on the label, unlike retail cosmetics.

That’s why we teamed up with Black Women for Wellness, Beautycounter, the CA Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, and Women’s Voices for the Earth to advocate for AB 2775, which would require manufacturers to list ingredients on the labels of professional salon products sold in California. On May 30, AB 2775 passed the CA State Assembly with unanimous bi-partisan support (76 to 0)! Now we are off to the Senate. If all goes well, the bill will head to the Governor’s desk in September. Stay tuned!

Congressional Briefing with Sen. Kamala Harris

On June 6, BCPP organized, and Sen. Kamala Harris hosted, a Congressional briefing on “State of the Evidence: The Connection Between Breast Cancer and the Environment.” Board Member and Science Advisory Panel Co-Chair Janet Gray headlined the event, joined by Julia Brody, Executive Director of our partner organization, Silent Spring Institute.

Topics included an overview of the new science linking chemical exposures to increasing rates of breast cancer, as well as the impact on women of color and other vulnerable populations. Our recommended policy solutions addressed community and place-based exposures, toxic consumer products, and occupational exposures. The audience included a mix of Congressional staff and coalition partners. Laying this foundation of science and highlighting the work of BCPP is critical to our effectiveness in Congress.

Chain Reaction: A Tribute to Jeanne Rizzo

At the end of 2018, Jeanne Rizzo, President and CEO of BCPP will retire after 17 years at the organization. Under her leadership, BCPP became a leader in both the breast cancer and environmental health fields, elevated the importance of cancer prevention in the scientific community, and played a significant role in the reduction of toxic chemicals in the marketplace. We invite you to save the date and join us to celebrate Jeanne and her many accomplishments on November 8, 2018 in San Francisco.

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Erika Wilhelm_BCPP

In the Field: Supporting Climb Against the Odds

In the Field: Supporting Climb Against the Odds

The journey through cancer is uphill. To help raise awareness of the public health crisis of breast cancer and raise funds to support prevention efforts, BCPP organizes the Climb Against the Odds event with support from Shasta Mountain Guides, where novice and expert climbers attempt to summit Mount Shasta — a 14,179’ peak in California. Read More

Guest Post by Garmin

The journey through cancer is uphill. To help raise awareness of the public health crisis of breast cancer and raise funds to support prevention efforts, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP) and Shasta Mountain Guides (SMG) have organized the Climb Against the Odds event, where novice and expert climbers attempt to summit Mount Shasta — a 14,179’ peak in California.

In 2018, Garmin provided technology support for the Climb Against the Odds event so family, friends, advocates and survivors everywhere could follow each climber’s journey. Nick Caselli, operations director at SMG, integrated live tracking data from our inReach® devices used by climbers during the event into Esri’s ArcGIS platform and then created a story map that displayed a multimedia journal of the climb. Nick also embedded a MapShare™ page on the story map site so supporters could choose between following the devices live or viewing photos and updates as they came in from the field.

Cobi Krumholz Photography, BCPP Climb Against the Odds 2018, Mount Shasta

Preparing for and Participating in the Event 
Michael Sevy climbed Mount Shasta during the Climb Against the Odds in 2011 — right around the time he met Mary Mathieu, who would later become his spouse. Since then, Michael and his close-knit CAO rope team encouraged Mary to join their ranks. Having never mountaineered before and hearing Michael’s forewarning of Shasta’s aptly named landmarks such as Misery Hill and the Summit Plateau, Mary knew the CAO was a true commitment of time and training. Mary and Michael finally swapped participant roles in 2018 when Mary climbed, and Michael led the cheering squad.

“Fundraising is the easy part,” Mary said. “People will surprise you with their generosity, but you can’t underestimate the endurance and strength required for the climb.” Mary prepared physically with BCPP’s regular training climbs and long runs, and her competitive nature kept her in rhythm with the young guns of the group. Intimidated by neither heights nor punishing switchbacks, Mary only worried that a recurring back injury might force her to turn back early on Mount Shasta. She geared up mentally for the climb with the strength, encouragement and motivation from the seasoned support team by her side.

Climbing and Summiting Mount Shasta
Using inReach tracking and communication technology helped event staff and climbers coordinate field logistics, manage risk and request resources. It also gave Michael and many others a means to follow Mary and her fellow climbing and cancer prevention champions in feat and spirit during their 3-day summit attempt on the Climb Against the Odds story map and MapShare page.

“Cheering friends on and following their progress was far different than following Mary this past year,” Michael said. He remembers Mary’s summit like it was Christmas morning. Mary remembers it a little differently.

Mary woke in the middle of the night on Mount Shasta for a painfully early alpine start. Due to an impending storm, the window for a safe summit attempt that day was limited, so the climbers moved quickly and efficiently on 3- to 4-person rope teams.

Meanwhile, Michael woke every hour until daybreak to watch Mary’s progress. The event story map and MapShare page provided updates of climbers who had turned back to basecamp and of shuffling rope teams, but Mary’s dot appeared to ever so slightly rise toward the summit. At first light, Michael and friends found themselves huddled around screens to watch — in grueling real time — Mary’s inching progress.

Mary and her team rose and traversed in synchronized French step up Mount Shasta’s West Face route. When they topped out, Mary recalled seeing the welcoming light of sunrise and her team’s quickening tempo to outpace the shadow of the mountain.

Mary’s group made impressive time to the summit, but the 6-hour ascent was only the halfway point of their journey. Firm snow conditions and an approaching storm meant dangerous glissading and a slow descent ahead. Mary and her team’s downclimb took more than 5 hours. Event staff and supporters watched intently during their steady return to basecamp for the night and their early morning departure to the trailhead.

BCPP Climb Against the Odds 2018 Mount Shasta

Mary Mathieu with fellow climbers Heather Buren and Mary Jane Bauman

Celebrating and Remembering
The Climb Against the Odds event closes with a celebration and ceremony among friends, family and tired climbing teams at the Bunny Flat trailhead. Reflecting on the event, Michael and Mary talked about the BCPP organization — their guides, their climbing partners and their collective mission — with a sense of pride and kinship. “It’s a very emotional event,” Mary said. “I did something to be a part of it, to be a part of the community. It’s such a powerful experience.”

During their climbs, Mary and Michael each carried Tibetan prayer flags inscribed with the names of friends who had breast cancer and inspired their journeys. A verse inscribed on the prayer flags reminded them and their teams of their united mission: “The wind carries our prayers of love, healing and remembrance. May we all be well.”

Climb Against the Odds is looking for our next team of climbers!

Check out the full itinerary this year and our learn about past climbs through our interactive map journal! Email events@bcpp.org with any questions.

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Garmin logo

Lowe’s Paint Strippers Victory

Lowe’s Paint Strippers Victory

Victory! Thanks to you Lowe’s will stop selling deadly paint strippers. By raising your voice, you made this huge consumer health victory happen.Read More

Lowe’s announced they will stop selling paint strippers with dangerous methylene chloride. You did this. Thank you for your support!

BCPP supporters who took action on our site contributed to the 200,000 petitions delivered to Lowe’s in coordination with our campaign partners at Mind the Store. By raising your voice, you made this huge consumer health victory happen.

Methylene chloride, a hazardous chemical, has killed at least 50 people in the U.S. after their use of paint strippers. It is linked to neurotoxicity, liver toxicity, and numerous cancers.

Collectively we’ve shown that coordinated pressure on big companies wins major health victories that will reduce exposure to chemicals linked to breast cancer and other diseases. Mobilizing voices and consumer dollars changes the market for toxic chemicals in favor of safer products.

This strategy to push the market toward safer products is critical given the U.S. government standstill over chemical regulation. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed banning methylene chloride back in 2017, but following pressure from the chemical industry, EPA leadership delayed the proposed bans until further notice.

With our federal government asleep at the wheel, we will move the market towards safer alternatives through organized consumer pressure.

This announcement from Lowe’s shows that safer alternatives are both possible and profitable. Other retailers and manufacturers will follow suit or face mounting public pressure. Ultimately, the pressure on government to act will become unstoppable.

On to Home Depot!

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Amy’s journey: her climb against all odds

Amy’s journey: her climb against all odds

It was the middle of June, and I found myself surrounded by snow. My body fought for oxygen as I propelled myself, one crunchy footstep at a time, toward the 14,179 foot peak.Read More

Guest Post by 2017 Climb Against the Odds climber, Amy

It was the middle of June, and I found myself surrounded by snow. My body fought for oxygen as I propelled myself, one crunchy footstep at a time, toward the 14,179 foot peak. Summiting Mt. Shasta was not only a physical achievement, but something that just five years ago would have been totally impossible for me.

In 2012 I was in the prime of my life. I was living a healthy and active lifestyle, having completed four marathons (including Boston), eight half marathons and numerous sporting events. The discovery of a lump in my breast and my diagnosis with stage one cancer was a complete shock. I struggled to find a cause for my cancer. I lived a more than healthy lifestyle, never smoked, and had no family history of the disease.

The years after my diagnosis proved to be humbling. After seven surgeries, a year of chemotherapy, a year without hair, and five years of cancer meds, I could finally pronounce myself cancer free! In 2017 I celebrated five years of survival without the disease. After all this, it was time to do something momentous and inspiring as a capstone to my battle with cancer.

In 2017 I joined a team of men and women committed to preventing breast cancer in Breast Cancer Prevention Partners’ Climb Against the Odds. Our group committed to climbing Mt. Shasta and collectively raised over $100,000 for BCPP, an organization that works to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation. Having never been a hiker, the training schedule seemed daunting and the fund-raising seemed challenging (how could I possibly raise that amount?), but I was determined to stick to my goals.

I was astonished by the generosity of my donors.  Fundraising was relatively easy with help from BCPP’s website and staff, and ideas shared by the hiking team. The training opened a world of hiking locations I would have never otherwise visited, and the benefits of cross-training brought on a new sense of self-confidence. I also discovered a connection to the outdoors I’d long forgotten.  

For me reaching my personal summit was epic, but it was the stories, comradery and friendships that I experienced during the climb that will stay with me forever. As climbers, each of us were given the opportunity to bring prayer flags to the summit in honor of a loved one who has been touched by cancer. As the team I had grown so fond of descended the mountain, we stopped in a wooded clearing, held hands and shared stories of the special person that represented each flag. It was a moment I’ll hold closely in my heart forever. I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude and exuberance for life, knowing full well, that just five years ago, someone else could have been climbing this mountain sharing their story about me.

Climbing Shasta was surely a physical and mental feat, but what I bring with me down the mountain and through my life everyday is the ability to carry on where others can’t, and share my story so others will not have to suffer as I did. Breast Cancer Prevention Partners is doing this important work every day, and as I transition into survivorship, I’m highly motivated to align myself with their mission of awareness and prevention.

Climb Against the Odds is looking for our next team of climbers!

Check out the full itinerary this year and our learn about past climbs through our interactive map journal! Email events@bcpp.org with any questions.

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BCPP Climb Mount Shasta to prevent breast cancer

2018 New Year’s Resolutions: Top Six

2018 New Year’s Resolutions: Top Six

Use and apply one of our top tips to reduce your breast cancer risk. This week we will be posting ideas for your 2018 goals!
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How about this for a New Year’s resolution? Be Safer.

Use and apply one of our top tips to reduce your breast cancer risk. We at BCPP want to help you make simple changes to protect your health and wellness. Join us in creating a healthier world by protecting our families, our communities and future generations from toxic harm. This week we will be posting ideas for your 2018 goals!


Safer Cosmetics & Beauty Products

Avoid fragrance

The word fragrance is a cocktail of ingredients and may include dozens or more potentially harmful chemicals, and can be found in nearly half of all personal care products. Fragrance on a product label can mask countless carcinogens and hormone disrupting chemicals. Avoid purchasing and using products with the word fragrance or parfum on the label. Be especially vigilant on children’s products.

Safer Cosmetics & Beauty Products

Use online tools and official seals to find safer products

Ditch your old daily routine and replace it with safer cosmetics and personal care products. Apps and websites like ThinkDirty, EWG’s Skin Deep, and the Good Guide will rate your personal care products for safety and toxicity and MADE SAFE,® is helping to make it easier to find safer products by labeling them with a special seal. Visit them often and stay up-to-date.


Safer Food Products

Include soy, but don’t overdo it

Natural plant-based estrogens in soy may provide healthy benefits in low doses, but may be a risk factor for breast cancer in higher doses. Include tofu and tempeh as part of your regular diet, but stay away from concentrated or isolated forms of soy derivatives, including genistein pills.



Safer Cleaning Products

Clean more naturally

Use baking soda to neutralize odors and soak up dampness, and vinegar to clean and deodorize. Add a cup of vinegar to your laundry to brighten up whites, remove odors, and lift tougher grime off fabrics. Add a few drops of your favorite citrus juice (think lemons, limes, oranges) or essential oils (try lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus) to a vinegar-based cleaning spray to fill your home with a fresh scent of your choice. Green your space with plants to clean the air you breathe. Vacuum with a HEPA filter to reduce sending chemicals into the air, and then your lungs.

Safer Cleaning Products

If you don’t know what’s in it, don’t use it

Labeling loopholes allow companies to avoid disclosing ingredients on cleaning product labels. Some cleaning product labels contain incomplete or misleading ingredient lists, so don’t be fooled by a short ingredient list. Only buy and use cleaning products which disclose all ingredients on the product label to avoid possible exposure to harmful chemicals.

Safer Workplace Health

Wash your hands

Washing your hands kills germs and reduces exposures to unsafe chemicals. Many chemicals from everyday products end up in workplace dust. Hand-washing reduces dust on the hands, and as a result reduces exposures to chemicals, like flame retardants. Make sure to use hand soap free of harmful chemicals.

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We Are Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP)

We Are Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP)

On March 6, 2017 Breast Cancer Fund changed our name to Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP). A new name.  A new look.Read More

On March 6, 2017 Breast Cancer Fund changed our name to Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP). A new name.  A new look. Same unwavering commitment to prevent breast cancer through our work with partners like you.

In talking with you and others like you we found a common view that Breast Cancer Fund, as a name, was not differentiating enough.  Nor did it telegraph who we are and what we are about.  Which is prevention.

So we changed our name but not our mission, our commitment to our partners, or our work.

We remain the leading science-based policy and advocacy organization working to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation. Our focus is on the intersection of breast cancer prevention and environmental health. That work continues and thrives.

For almost 25 years we’ve been a part of so many important victories with you at our side. Looking ahead our work is more important than ever before. There is so much more to do.

To that end we also introduced a new interactive website under our new name.  It is educational, engaging and provide many ways for you to get involved with breast cancer prevention.

We are extremely excited about our name change and look forward to writing our next chapter together.

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Drum Roll, Please

Drum Roll, Please

No Estrogenic Activity Found in Tests of New Replacement for BPA in Food Can Linings
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No Estrogenic Activity Found in Tests of New Replacement for BPA in Food Can Linings

By Janet Nudelman, MA and Sharima Rasanayagam, PhD


What is the problem?

Bisphenol A (BPA) is an endocrine disrupting chemical used in the lining of many food and beverage cans. Studies have shown that BPA can leach from the lining of cans into the food and then into people. Growing consumer concern over BPA’s health impacts has increased demand for BPA-free products and food packaging. Unfortunately the identity of the replacement chemicals is often not disclosed and the safety of the BPA-alternatives we do know are being used is unknown. For example, BPA in some baby bottles and receipt paper has been replaced by other bisphenols such as BPS and BPAF. Studies have shown that these chemicals are also endocrine disruptors.

What did they do in this study?

Scientists from Tufts University School of Medicine worked with the can lining manufacturer Valspar to independently test Valspar’s new can lining material for estrogenic activity. They looked at both the final material and the “monomer” used to create it. They also assessed if the material could leach into foodstuffs from the final coating polymer. On January 13, 2017, Dr. Ana Soto, the lead author, published their findings in Environmental Science & Technology in a paper entitled:  “Evidence of Absence: Estrogenicity Asessment of a New Food-Contact Coating and the Bisphenol Used in its Synthesis.”

What did they find?

The material (TMBPF) did not show estrogenic activity in the assays they used – not in receptor binding assays, cell studies or whole animal studies – there was no effect on uterus weight in females, puberty in male or female rats or mammary gland development in female rats. When they looked for leaching from the final coating, they could not detect any migration with a 0.2 parts per billion detection limit. As the researchers conclude, “their findings provide compelling evidence for the absence of EA by TMBPF and the polymeric coating derived from it, and that human exposure to TMBPF would be negligible.”


Why do we care?
Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP) is no stranger to spearheading campaigns that grow consumer demand for non-toxic consumer products in order to grow the marketplace of safer products. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a project of BCPP, has proven that as consumers learn more about the toxic chemicals they are being exposed to in everyday items, the potential health impacts and the lack of federal oversight, they “vote” with their pocketbooks, demanding safer personal care products for themselves and their families. And the market listens. Today, the safe/natural sector of the multi-billion dollar cosmetics industry is $19 billion and growing.

Another success story that illustrates the ability of consumers to move markets was the industry exodus away from the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles, sippy cups, sports water bottles and canned infant formula. This market flight was fueled by public outrage over the widespread use of BPA in food packaging despite a growing number of scientific studies linking exquisitely small amounts of BPA exposure to a staggering number of health problems including breast and prostate cancer, asthma, obesity, behavioral changes (including attention deficit disorder), altered development of the brain and immune system, low birth weight and lowered sperm counts.

In all, five U.S. cities and counties, 13 states and ultimately the FDA banned BPA from baby bottles, sippy cups and infant formula cans. But with this important consumer victory – and flexing of consumer muscle – came a sobering wake-up call to a troubling phenomenon called “regrettable substitution” – the replacement of one toxic chemical with an equally or more toxic alternative.

In the case of BPA in baby bottles, “regrettable substitution” was not just a theoretical construct — it turned out to be a real-life problem. An assessment, published March 2011 in Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), of more than 500 commercially available plastic products labeled BPA-free, found many to be leaching endocrine-disrupting chemicals that in some cases were more estrogen active (EA) than BPA-containing plas­tics.[i]

That same year, BCPP launched our Cans Not Cancer Campaign, designed to generate the public will necessary to similarly drive BPA out of the lining of canned foods with a parallel goal of increasing consumer demand for safer alternatives. The battle cry for informed substitution was further fueled when three years later, in a follow-up study published in May 2014, the same researchers tested 50 BPA-free products and found similar results, warning “BPA-Free did not mean EA-Free.” [ii] Our new mantra became: consumers want BPA-free canned food that is truly safer, not canned food lined with chemi­cals that are equally or more estrogenic.

For 5 years we knocked on the doors of the world’s biggest multinational canned food manufacturers urging them to stop using BPA to line their food cans and adopt a higher level of transparency regarding the identity and the safety of the BPA alternatives they were using or moving toward. As breast cancer prevention advocates, we petitioned the FDA to ban BPA from food packaging because of its estrogenic properties and links to a host of adverse health effects, we lobbied congress to do the same and we raised public awareness about the new science showing small amounts of endocrine disrupting compounds – like BPA – were being linked to breast cancer and other big health problems.  It is important to remember that the little FDA regulation of the food packaging industry that does exists,  does not require manufacturers look for and rule out the use of chemicals in food packaging that display estrogenic activity or other endocrine disrupting properties. So as far as we could tell, no one was minding the store in terms of preventing the “next BPA” in food can linings from being just as estrogenic – or more – than BPA is.

And then something amazing happened. A chemical company named Valspar came knocking on our door and said they wanted to talk to us about a new BPA alternative they had developed with the catchy name tetramethyl bisphenol F (TMBPF). They told us that consumer concern with BPA, and its estrogenic properties had created demand for EA-free alternatives and prompted a 5-year journey on their part to meet that demand by inventing the safer BPA alternative that breast cancer prevention advocates and others were asking for.

We had never been visited by a chemical company before and at first we were suspicious. But we were quickly impressed by not only the extensive testing they had conducted – not just for estrogenic activity, but for other types of hormone disruption and other adverse outcomes such as organ toxicity and genotoxicity. We were also impressed by their willingness to share that safety data with us and by the new model for safety substantiation they used in the creation of TMBPF called “Safety by Design.”

Safety by Design is a safety protocol that requires testing for endocrine activity, along with other more traditional toxicological testing hazard endpoints, not because the FDA requires it but because it is a source of public concern. Equally amazing is the Safety by Design commitment to “put (Valspar’s) new coatings to the test in the hands of recognized independent scientists, many of whom previously identified health concerns for the very products we seek to replace.” Thus, the independent safety testing of TMBPF for estrogenic activity by renowned breast cancer scientist – Dr. Ana Soto and the choice of Dr. Maricel Maffini, another renowned scientific expert on breast cancer and a member of our Science Advisory Panel, as a primary consultant on this project.

We applaud the publication of Dr. Soto’s peer-reviewed article which affirms TMBPF is not estrogen-active. Dr. Soto’s paper links to Valspar’s website which provides full reports evaluating potential migration, transactivation, uterotrophic and pubertal assays. Valspar’s level of transparency is also to be applauded.  However to be completely confident of the overall safety of this new material, it is important for Valspar to go a step further and make available its safety data related to additional health endpoints and environmental toxicity.

The arrival of TMBPF is exciting to be sure, and deserves the attention of – and close inspection by – the big multinational food giants as well as advocates in the environmental health and justice communities. Also deserving of attention is Valspar’s “Safety by Design” which raises a high bar – and creates a model – for the safety testing of chemicals in food can linings and other product sectors as well. In this time of uncertainty regarding whether the federal government will be the caretaker of public health we need it to be, it is heartening to see Valspar stepping up, and in the process of doing so, challenging other chemical companies to be responsible stewards of public health.

For more information see our report Buyer Beware: Toxic BPA and regrettable substitutes found in the lining of canned food.

[i] Yang, C. Z., Yaniger, S. I., Jordan, V. C., Klein, D. J., & Bittner, G. D. (2011). Most plastic products release estrogenic chemicals: a potential health problem that can be solved. Environmental Health Perspectives, 119(7), 989.

[ii] Bittner, G.D., Yang, C.Z, Stoner, MA. (2014). Estrogenic chemicals often leach from BPA-free plastic products that are replacements for BPA-containing polycarbonate products. Environmental Health, (13):41

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