Copy of Beware of Plastic: Chemical Content and How It Can Affect Your Health

We have gotten used to the word ‘plastic’, so much that we now use it in the form of an allegory; e.g. “nothing’s real about her; she lives a very plastic life!”.

Perhaps our allegories are truer than we care to admit- as plastics have lots of negative effects on our bodies; mostly due to their chemical content. If something has become so commonplace in our lives, we should be well-informed about it, shouldn’t we?

And that’s why, my dear friend, you should be aware of the chemicals in plastic, and what impact these can have on your health.

  1.     Phthalates

Okay, so here’s the gist on phthalates. As plastic softeners, they are usually not firmly bound to other molecular components of plastic, and this makes them easily move through the plastics, and into human bodies (sad, yeah?). Plastic extrusion is another thing we need to look out for. 

These compounds i.e. phthalates are known to be endocrine disruptors linked to reproductive problems and infertility. Emerging neurodevelopmental research also identifies phthalates as chemical contributors to the problems of brain development. Over 90% of Americans are said to have a significant amount of phthalates in their urine, due to the kind of substances we consume/are exposed to. Need I say more?

  1. Bisphenol-A (BPA)

If you’ve been around the block a bit, you’d have certainly heard about BPA, a known hormonal disruptor causing lots of health issues; and found in some plastics. Its effects are closely tied to those of BPS, another toxic chemical compound in the same family.

These two compounds produce estrogen mimickers into substances stored in them e.g. water or food stored in plastic bottles/plates; increasing the risk of infertility, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases.  

  1. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Another highly toxic chemical- both to the human body and the environment, Polyvinyl chloride is still sometimes used in plastics, causing immense harm.  

“I’m scared: What Can I Do?”

Hold on with the fear; we’re all involved, so together, we can take drastic steps to save humanity and our environment.

You might not be able to avoid complete contact with plastic, but here are a couple of practical steps you and I can take:

Reducing BPA exposure

  1.     For water, you can carry around your own vacuum insulated water bottles, which are much safer than plastic water bottles.
  2.     As much as possible, stay away from canned food
  3.     If you’re nurturing a baby, only use baby bottles that carry a ‘BPA free’ label.
  4.     Carbonless copy cash registers often contain BPA; avoid handling or recycling these!
  5.     Does the bottom of the bottle state ‘number 7’ without a leaf symbol or the acronym “PLA”? Stay off!

Reducing Exposure to Phthalates, PVC and other chemicals

  1.     Avoid cooking food in plastic containers, roasting or steaming bags; as the plastic residual content of any of these can leach or seep into the food as it gets heated in an oven.
  2.     As much as possible, try to use glass or stainless steel pots and containers for your foods and beverages- for hot food especially!
  3.     Look carefully at the recycling symbols on plastics when you have to use them; if the numbers state 2, 4 and 5; they are generally safe to use. Only use plastics with symbols stating the number 7 if, in addition, there’s a leaf symbol or the words “PLA” written on them as well.  If using plastic with the recycling symbol 1; do not reuse. You’d do well to keep all of these plastics out of the heat or sun.

Wrapping Up

As much as you can, avoid an unnecessary affinity to plastics. Do your part to stay safe!