In early December of last year, I went to an annual review event at Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center. At the event, they talked about birth defects, learning disabilities, obesity, and breast cancer from toxic chemicals. The panelists are pediatricians, toxicologist, PhD environmental activists. Those professionals gave us the facts from their studies and experiences that toxic man-made chemicals, endocrine disruptors, such as BPA, phthalates, pesticides, and perchlorate interfere with hormone signaling. These messages exert powerful control over brain development, body growth, reproductive development, and the timing of puberty. They gave us a tip on which plastics are safe on top of just BPA free products.
However, a recent study has found that nearly all plastic, even that which claims to be BPA-free releases chemicals that have estrogenic activity (EA) and cause hormone disruption. They tested nearly 500 products which are almost all commercially available plastic products. The study also found that “in some cases, BPA-free products released chemicals having more EA than BPA-containing products.” They noted that “Chemicals having EA reportedly cause many adverse health effects, especially at low (picomolar to nanomolar) doses in fetal and juvenile mammals.”
We use a lot of plastics for food storage and take-out meals, even cooking for some people… The study states that molecules from plastic and additives used to make plastic leach into food at an accelerated rate when the plastic is exposed to common stress like the UC radiation from sunlight, microwave radiation, and boiling or dishwashing. This leaching even happens in the BPA-free plastics. Most of plastic products are made of undisclosed combinations of compounds and resins. Baby bottle, for example, may contain 5-30 different chemicals! And these chemicals can leach into food from the product when it’s stressed. So, we are eating those chemicals when you heat up food with plastic containers!!! Scary… When I think about a baby drinking warmed up milk with plastic bottle, I imagine the baby is toxicaing! The scientists in the study believe that public health practice shouldn’t ignore these findings.
Fortunately, the industry does have access to additives that have no detectable EA and have similar costs. They are antioxidants, clarifiers, colorants, inks, etc. They can be used to make flexible non-transparent or LDPE (#4) plastic items that are EA-free even after exposure to the stressors. But, we don’t know when plastic manufacturers will start changing their formulas. So, we need to think what WE can do now. We can choose to use glass, metal, wood, paper and fabrics instead of plastics for food. Here is one company that sells great non-plastic products.
I hope this type of products become our social trend and eliminate plastics as much as possible!