A couple years ago I started to come across information that concerned me about my use of plastic. Most of it based on the fact that it doesn’t decompose and sticks around forever. I began to worry about what I was storing my food in. I worried about the plastic water bottle I had at work. The one I refused to toss out because I was too cheap to buy a new one every day or a reusable one.
And then as someone who suffers from ‘lack of fertility’, the following information was what I needed for a complete 180 turn.
Bisphenol A (a xeno-estrogen) has been suspected of being hazardous to humans since about 1930 and luckily companies are starting to hear the outcry from the public and are taking it out of products. Studies have shown it affects the reproductive systems in both men and women as it acts as an endocrine disruptor and mimics estrogen in the body. We are regularly exposed to BPA as it is found in the lining of aluminum cans, water bottles, plastics, food storage containers, and even dental sealants.
A study was done by the CDC even showed that 93% of the children and 95% of the adults tested had levels of BPA in their urine and the National Toxicology Program came out with a report in September of 2008 saying they found “some concern” with BPA and that infants were most at risk.
“Phthalates are industrial chemicals that are added to plastics to impart flexibility and resilience and are often referred to as plasticizers. Phthalates also are used as solubilizing or stabilizing agents in other applications. There are numerous products that may contain phthalates: adhesives; automotive plastics; detergents; lubricating oils; some medical devices and pharmaceuticals; plastic raincoats; solvents; vinyl tiles and flooring; and personal-care products, such as soap, shampoo, deodorants, lotions, fragrances, hair spray, and nail polish. Phthalates are often used in polyvinyl chloride type plastics, such as plastic bags, garden hoses, inflatable recreational toys, blood product storage bags, intravenous medical tubing, and toys (ATSDR, 2001, 2002). Because they are not chemically bound to the plastics to which they are added, phthalates can be released into the environment during use or disposal of the product. Various phthalate esters have been measured in specific foods, indoor and ambient air, indoor dust, water sources, and sediments (Clark et al., 2003).”
While phthalates (also a xenoestrogen/endocrine disruptor) are supposedly metabolized and quickly excreted from the body, there have also been studies that suggest that exposure to this class of chemicals may contribute to endocrine disruption, metabolic interference, and affect reproductive health. The other issue that needs to be looked at is the fact that we may be constantly ingesting them. It’s not like we’re exposed once and that’s it. We may excrete this particular toxin, just to ingest it again. In 2002 the EWG published a paper with a full list of the toxic repercussions (http://www.safecosmetics.org) including birth defects and damage to the male reproductive organs.
What You Can Do
When I first found out about the actual dangers of plastics, I was upset. I wanted to toss everything I owned made of plastic and buy new, but my wallet said different! So to minimize your exposure, there are a few things you can do.
- Do not place hot foods into plastic or heat foods in plastic. As an unstable compound, when heated it leaches toxins into your food. Ever notice how a clear plastic container turns orange when you heat a tomato sauce in it? Well, if the food can leach into plastic, the toxins can leach out.
- Use plastic for only non fatty foods as the higher the fat content, the more it leaches.
- Don’t place in the dishwasher as the high heat can damage the already unstable plastic and cause it to leach more.
- Buy glass storage containers when you’re able to and an insulated stainless steel container is great for leftovers at work.
So, how much plastic is in your house? Do you use it on a regular basis?
What one thing do you want to replace now?
This post is linked to: Spring Cleaning – Get the Plastics Out over at Fake Plastic Fish check out her post for more information on how to live plastic free!