A common chemical found in the lining of water bottles, aluminum cans and other food packaging may put children at risk of developing kidney and heart disease, according to a study from the NYU School of Medicine.
Researchers analyzed data on more than 700 children, focusing on the amount of Bisphenol A, better known as BPA, in their urine.
"The people who have been exposed to high levels of BPA in their urine are showing that they’re also leaking proteins," said Dr. Matthew Budoff, cardiologist at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute. "And when you start leaking proteins from your kidney, you start building kidney damage."
As the kidney becomes compromised, so do the blood vessels and the heart. That can lead to an increased risk of developing heart disease in the future.
Some 92 percent of children in the United States have traces of BPA in their urine, according to the study, which suggests that even low levels of the chemical cannot be ignored.
"It’s not entirely clear that at the levels they found, that definitely these people will go on to have major problems, but it is concerning," Budoff said. "And it is a call for oversight and another look at this issue to make sure that we’re restricting it in the proper way so our children are not exposed to this."
BPA was recently banned in baby bottles and sippy cups over growing health concerns. But the FDA stopped short of completely banning the chemical, which is used as a lining in aluminum food and beverage cans to prevent corrosion.
While further research is conducted, there are ways to limit BPA exposure right now.
"It’s mostly found in plastics and the plastic lining of aluminum cans. Soda and aluminum canned drinks will have a little bit, microscopic amounts of BPA in it," Budoff said.
"The biggest source probably for us is if you’re heating food in the microwave, don’t put it in a plastic dish or put plastic wrap over it. That will heat the plastic and release BPA into the food."
BPA-free, reusable sandwich bags and snack bags are also available.
If you're concerned about BPA in the containers you're using, be sure to check with the company and consult ingredient labels. For example, popular brand and lunchbox staple Ziploc has eliminated BPA from its sandwich and snack bags, according to its website.