Health Risks of Plastics

Chemical structure of styrene acrylonitrile co...

Chemical Structure of Styrene Acrylonitrile Copolymer

Plastic products are everywhere. More and more we are discovering there are health risks that make these convenient products not so desirable. Plastics are releasing harmful chemicals into our air, foods, and drinks.

While studies are showing the health risks of plastics, they are also overtaking our landfills.

Every bit of plastic that has ever been created still exists (except for the little bit that has been incinerated, which releases toxic chemicals). In the ocean, plastic waste is accumulating in giant gyres of debris where, among other thing, fish are ingesting toxic plastic bits at a rate which will soon make them unsafe to eat. Source: Healthy Child Healthy World

According to Healthy Child Healthy World, the best thing to do is to reduce your use of plastic. Look for natural alternatives like textiles, solid wood, bamboo, glass, stainless steel, etc. Also, look for items with less (or no) plastic packaging. If you do buy plastic, opt for products you can recycle or re-purpose (e.g. a yogurt tub can be re-used to store crayons). And, get to know your plastics – starting with this guide:

The most common plastics have a resin code in a chasing arrow symbol (often found on the bottom of the product).

PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate): AVOID
Common Uses: Soda Bottles, Water Bottles, Cooking Oil Bottles
Concerns: Can leach antimony and phthalates.

HDPE (High Density Polyethylene): SAFER
Common Uses: Milk Jugs, Plastic Bags, Yogurt Cups

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride, aka Vinyl): AVOID
Common Uses: Condiment Bottles, Cling Wrap, Teething Rings, Toys, Shower Curtains
Concerns: Can leach lead and phthalates among other things. Can also off-gas toxic chemicals.

LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene): SAFER
Common Uses: Produce Bags, Food Storage Containers

PP (Polypropylene): SAFER
Common Uses: Bottle Caps, Storage Containers, Dishware, Yogurt Containers

(TIP: You can recycle some of your #5 plastics including your used Brita pitcher filters through Preserve’s Gimme 5 recycling program.) 

PS (Polystyrene, aka Styrofoam): AVOID
Common Uses: Meat Trays, Foam Food Containers & Cups
Concerns: Can leach carcinogenic styrene and estrogenic alkylphenols

Other this is a catch-all category which includes:
PC (Polycarbonate): AVOID– can leach Bisphenol-A (BPA). It also includes ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), SAN (Styrene Acrylonitrile), Acrylic, and Polyamide. These plastics can be a safer option because they are typically very durable and resistant to high heat resulting in less leaching. Their drawbacks are that they are not typically recyclable and some need additional safety research. New plant-based, biodegradable plastics like PLA (Polylactic Acid) also fall into the #7 category.

Source: Healthy Child Healthy World

About craigruark

Craig A. Ruark is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing and PR professional. In 2008, Craig became one of the first non-technical persons to become an Accredited Professional by the U.S. Green Building Council for ‘Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design” (LEED AP). Over the years he has immersed himself in the subject of “sustainability” and by combining this knowledge with his expertise in marketing and advertising, has published a book titled “Marketing Your Green Side,” which is available through Amazon. Craig is an avid fitness participant, sailor, SCUBA diver, enjoys singing Karaoke, listening to jazz, and is working on his next book.
This entry was posted in Green, Sustainability, Waste Minimization and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Health Risks of Plastics

  1. David Herron says:

    I recently reviewed a movie which looked closely at bottled water sold in plastic bottles. Basically the bottled water industry tries to make the impression their water is safer, when it’s not, and then there’s the issue of plastic being used as the container to sell that bottled water. Plastic leeches poisons into the water, especially when the bottle is reused over and over, especially when the bottle is heated (like, left in the trunk of a car on a hot day), etc. Very eye opening. (see: Tapped, a look at the dangers of bottled water)

  2. Pingback: Healthy Child, Healthy World « SmiffyBaby // Certified Organic Births

  3. Pingback: Deciphering the symbol on plastic containers « Ignorance is Bliss

  4. Pingback: Use of plastic products linked to cancer and impairment of the immune system | Sovereign Independent

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s