Plastic, Plastic Everywhere and None Of It Is Safe?

A recent study has come out indicating that not only are the plastics that contain BPA dangerous, but most plastics that do NOT contain BPA are just as dangerous, if not more so.  Emily Sohn states in an article from Discovery News:

It now looks like there are thousands of possible chemicals in all sorts of plastics that act just like BPA. Called endocrine disruptors, these chemicals falsely tell the body’s cells that the hormone estrogen is around, potentially causing all sorts of troubling developmental and reproductive consequences.

And not only are they potentially just as bad as BPA plastics, but they are, in some cases, worse. 

To be honest, I have been waiting for this study.  In order to remove the BPA from the product they need to replace it with “something else”, and the “something else” will be another chemical that is not as well researched as BPA.

What exactly is BPA? 

BPA is an organic compound used to make polycarbonate plastic. 

Wikipedia says:

Polycarbonate plastic, which is clear and nearly shatter-proof, is used to make a variety of common products including baby and water bottles, sports equipment, medical and dental devices, dental fillings and sealants, CDs and DVDs, household electronics, and eyeglass lenses.[5]

BPA is also used as a lining in almost all food and drink cans.  It is used in copy paper and thermal paper including store reciepts.  It is also used for lining water pipes. 

Lots of people are choosing BPA-free options for many of these items including baby bottles, drinking water bottles, and BPA-free cans.  Many companies producing plastic items are advertising them as BPA-free and Safe.  And they are selling.  But what are these plastics made from?  And are they, too, leaching chemicals into our food and beverages?

Because of its shape and size, BPA manages to fit into the receptors in our bodies that recognize estrogen, kind of like a counterfeit key fitting into a loose lock. Estrogen is a key hormone in the development of young bodies and reproductive systems, which is why the chemical has been banished from baby products in many places. But if BPA can fool estrogen receptors so easily, scientists have long suspected that many other chemicals probably do the same thing. – Discovery News

The study tested plastic food and beverage containers, plastic wrap, plastic bags and so on.  They were exposed to microwaves, boiling water, and UV light, which is typical of normal use.  More than 90% of the products leached estrogenic chemicals BEFORE being subjected to heat.  When stressed with heat, ALMOST ALL of them leached estrogenic chemicals, and some of them leached MORE than the BPA plastics did. 

It will be interesting to see the follow up studies that will come.  The lesson we can take from this is to make sure that the alternative we choose has been well-tested and proven safe before we make the switch.

What can we trust?  What can we do?

  • Stainless steel and glass containers do not leach. 
  • Choose glass baby bottles and silicone or rubber nipples over plastic.
  • Use stainless or glass water bottles instead of plastic. 
  • Store oil, liquid or food that will be heated in glass or stainless containers rather than plastic. 
  • Choose fresh food over canned food. 
  • Choose fresh water or juice over canned beverages. 
  • Wash your hands after handling receipt paper and before eating anything. 
  • Don’t let you children chew on plastic chew toys. 
  • Send your children to school with old stainless steel cutlery over plastic cutlery.
  • Don’t serve beverages in plastic cups. 
  • Recognise that disposable plastic is only a convenience and that there are lots of better solutions to disposable ware.    

Plastic is everywhere, and we can’t entirely eliminate it from our lives.  Choosing to eliminate it from your food storage will decrease your exposure dramatically.  Fresh food that has not been in contact with plastic is your best choice. 

There are many other reasons to cut back on plastic use.  Plastic leaves behind a huge carbon footprint when being created.  It uses up valuable natural resources.  It fills up our landfills and oceans, causing injury and death to wildlife.  And now we are learning it could be affecting our health in very negative ways. 

Let’s choose alternatives to plastic whenever possible.  These changes just might save our lives.

This post has been linked to The Prairie Homesteader’s Homestead Barn Hop #50, Whole New Mom’s Traditional Tuesdays Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, I Thought I Knew Mama’s Green and Natural Link Up, Common Sense Homesteading’s Living Well Blog Hop #30 and Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday.

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