Plastic Safety

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For many years, most of us have probably wondered about plastic safety.  You may have noticed an odor if plastic containers are left exposed to the sunlight. What is that odor? Is plastic releasing toxins that cause the odor?

Plastic Safety

The plastic debate

The plastic safety debate gains momentum

Over a number of years, little news items kept coming that cast further doubt on plastic safety as it is used for food and drink containers. It was reported that the majority of plastics under certain conditions leached synthetic estrogens.

The following was reported in an article from Mother Jones who cited the original papers.

“A 2012 literature review by 12 prominent scientists found “substantial evidence” that hormone-altering chemicals are damaging, even at minute doses. BPA, the most studied estrogen-mimicking compound, has been linked to a long list of maladies, including asthma, cancer, infertility, low sperm count, heart disease, liver problems, and ADHD. In some cases, the effects appear to be handed down, meaning the chemical reprograms an individual’s genes and causes disease in future generations.

The news isn’t all bad, though. CertiChem’s study also names several products that are free of estrogenic activity, among them green Nalgene water bottles (the green dye apparently blocks the effects of UV rays) and reusable water bottles from Topas and Zeonor. CertiChem’s founder, George Bittner, who is also a neuroscience professor at the University of Texas at Austin, cautions that even these products aren’t guaranteed to be safe since minor change to the chemical formula can introduce estrogens. “Everything depends on the exact chemicals that are in a given product,” he explains. “Something as small as tweaking the colorant can make a big difference.” Also, manufacturers sometimes swap one plastic for another without alerting consumers.”

BPA free plastics hit the market

We all sighed with relief when companies, especially the ones making baby bottles and the sippy type cups for toddles were made BPA free. I recently bought ice block molds that were BPA free and I felt good about being able to buy them. Tupperware and other big names were also selling BPA-free food and drink containers.

My feel good bubble soon burst as I read about later testings by CertiChem finding the chemicals that replaced BPA were acting in a similar manner to BPA. That many of the chemicals put into the plastics have never had safety tests done. So much for plastic safety.

Here is more from the report. “By this point, roughly 100 studies on low-dose BPA were in circulation. Not a single industry-funded study found it harmful, but 90 percent of those by government-funded scientists discovered dramatic effects, ranging from an increased breast cancer risk to hyperactivity.”

They discovered - the majority of plastics under certain conditions leached synthetic estrogens. Click To Tweet

The Plastic Safety Debate gets hot

The above finding started a big media campaign between the large manufacturing companies and CertiChem. There have been major court cases and doses of misinformation fed to the courts and to the public leaving some very muddy waters for us as consumers.

I will put a link to the Mother Jones report that you may like to read, it is very interesting. It also reports on observations of the effects of these plastic chemicals that are synthetic estrogens, on animals, causing changes in their genes and these changes are passed on down through the generations. Plastic safety, it makes very scary reading (link). It is also unsettling to find that some who are defending the chemicals as not dangerous are the same ones who were leading the war against science linking second-hand smoke to human health problems.

As the war of words and marketing persuasion goes on, what are we to believe?

The Plastic Safety Debate – What am I to do?

I have been to the website mentioned in the report, who allegedly now claims that BPA and the other chemicals are all safe.  They sound smooth and well worded, if I had not read the other side of the story they may have convinced me that they are a responsible company and not profit driven.

I don’t feel comfortable believing these chemicals are safe- too many kids are sick without a known cause Click To Tweet

With the increase in some diseases and little babies being born with cancer, I just don’t feel comfortable believing that these chemicals are safe.

So out goes the plastic containers and in comes the glass ones.

Glass containers
Glass Containers

More and more I am finding that it is hard to buy products in glass jars or bottles. Even medication and supplements are often in plastic containers.  I try to find products in glass and keep the bottles for my own use.  For example, my coconut oil comes in a large glass jar, and they make good jars for the pantry.

Now that most of the plastic has gone, it feels a lot better. I still have some plastic bags for vegetables as they keep so much fresher. What I do for the vegetables and some of the freezer items is to wrap them in baking paper first and then place them in the plastic bag.

I don’t think I can cope without plastic wrap! I have a number of glass containers and dishes without lids, so I use the plastic wrap over the top making sure that it does not touch the food.

Plastic Safety
Cling wrap over glass

Another way I use cling wrap is when I have made e.g. a cake and decorated it. It is on the serving plate ready to be served later. I don’t have a container to fit it into and I don’t want it left open in the fridge to absorb fridge odors. Here is what I do.

cling wrap tooth pick
Cling wrap toothpick

Place some wooden toothpicks in strategic places around the cake.

Cling wrap log
Cling wrap does not come in contact with the cake

The cling wrap can be draped around the cake with the toothpicks preventing the plastic from touching the cake. I can’t say that is 100% safe but it has to be a lot better than having it in direct contact with edible foods.

Another plastic that is hard to avoid is buying supermarket meat, it is probably better to buy from the farmer or at least, the butcher.

What do you do about children’s lunch boxes? You can’t really use glass.

What are some of your tips to limit the use of plastic? I would love you to leave a comment to share with us as the plastic debate goes on.

What do you think about plastic safety?

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