Death By Plastic: The Toxic Truth About The Chemicals We Eat & Drink
Naturopathic Nuggets about Plastic
- The prevalence of plastic has shaped our technologically advanced world from disposable medical supplies to cellphones & computers
- Plastic chemicals are linked to cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, hormonal imbalances, developmental & fertility effect
- Bisphenol A (BPA) is the most notorious & highest volume plastic chemical produced globally
- BPA is found in plastic packaging, aluminum beverage & canned goods, alcohol & soda containers, baby bottles & children’s toys and even car interiors, eyewear & dental sealants
- Heat accelerates your BPA exposure by 55X, so avoid coffee in paper cups as they also have a plastic lining
- Phthalates, another plastic chemical, are even worse than BPA as they off-gas easily increasing air & skin exposure
- Growing research has associated Phthalates with obesity & insulin resistance, genital deformities, lowered levels of sex hormones and other reproductive dysfunctions
- Phthalates are so prevalent & so toxic that they have been banned in North America, Australia & the European Union
- PET are Phthalates in disguise. Unfortunately, PET is still commonly found in clear plastic bottles for soda, sports drinks, condiments, cosmetic & fragranced products
- A recent study found that given the chemicals, processing & additives used in plastic manufacturing, there are no “safe” plastics, as some BPA-free plastics have more toxic effects than BPA plastic itself
- You need to be conscientious to avoid toxicity in our plastic-ridden world. Stick with cloth bags, glass containers & DEP-free, Phthalate-free & fragrance-free products.
- Recycle for your health & the health of our environment
We Live In A Plastic World
Our society has advanced in thousands of ways because of plastic. It is integral in manufacturing the many products we cannot live without. In a sense, plastic has given us the lives we enjoy today, from cell phones & computers to packaged food & disposable medical supplies. However, the destructive effects of plastic can no longer be ignored. Over 300 million metric tons of plastic are produced worldwide each year, of which 50% is for disposable use (Halden 2010). Plastic is posing a significant threat to both our health and environment.
Plastic Hurts You & The Environment
Plastic is cheap, versatile & seemingly indestructible. Yet plastic exposed to heat, repeated washing & acidic food contents can break down, releasing toxic chemicals. These chemicals include Bisphenol A (BPA) & Phthalates that leach into our bodies to cause many serious health issues. In fact, research has linked these plastic-related chemicals with cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, hormonal imbalances, developmental & fertility effects (Rustagi et al. 2011).
Notorious BPA: Universal & Deadly
Bisphenol A (BPA) is the most notorious and one of the highest volume plastic chemicals produced globally. BPA works to make plastic more durable & flexible. In your body, BPA mimics hormones so they disrupt the natural hormonal balance in your body. Exposure is so mainstream, that detectable levels of BPA have been found in the urine of 95% of the US population (Vandenberg et al. 2007). Scientists have found that even tiny amounts may cause damage. In combination with its prevalence in our food supply, BPA may be a more grievous issue than anticipated, especially for babies, children & pregnant mothers.
BPA Has Toxic Systemic Health Effects
- Abnormal Fetus Development
- Abnormal Sexual Behavior (Changes in Gender-Specific Behavior)
- Brain Damage
- Diabetes Trigger (Affect Sugar Metabolism, Insulin Resistance, Inflammation)
- Early Puberty Embryo Defects
- Female Infertility
- Hormonal Imbalances (Ovarian Dysfunction, Disrupted Menstrual Cycles, Early Breast Development)
- Hyperactivity, ADHD, Impaired Learning & Aggressiveness
- Impaired Immunity
- Increased Prostate Size
- Obesity & Increased Fat Storage
- Reduced Sperm Production, Health & Motility
- Reduced Sex Drive & Sexual Dysfunction
- Thyroid Dysfunction
- Tooth Enamel Erosion
- Vitamin D Deficiency
Our Babies & Children Suffer The Most
The National Toxicology Program has some concern for effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants and children at current human exposures to Bisphenol A (BPA).
Plastick-em Up! You’re Surrounded
We are so engulfed by plastics in our industrialized society, that we now have to worry about multiple avenues of exposure, most often from our food supply. The Environmental Protection Agency has now listed BPA as a “chemical of concern”. Sources of Bisphenol A (BPA) includes:
- Aerosol Cans (Whipped Cream, Non-Stick Sprays)
- Aluminum Beverage Cans (Soda, Coffee Cans, Beer Kegs)
- Alcohol (Beer & Wine DANGER as BPA is Soluble in Alcohol)
- Baby Bottles
- Blenders & Food Processors
- Children’s Toys
- Canned Food Liners
- Canning Jar Lids
- Car Interiors
- Cooking Oil Bottles & Tins
- Dental Sealants
- Eyewear Frames
- Lids of Glass Jars (Baby Food, Pickles, Jelly, Salsa, Condiments)
- Medical Devices & Joint Replacement Material
- Pizza Boxes
- Soda Cans (Toxic Not Only Because of Artificial Sweeteners)
- Storage Food Containers (Storing & Reheating AVOID MICROWAVING)
- Toilet Paper
- Water Cooler Bottles
Toxic Coffee Anyone? Heat Accelerates Your BPA Exposure
Although food packaging accounts for 90% of BPA exposure (NIEHS), air, dust & water are other sources. In fact, the temperature of the contents determines how much BPA is released. Your exposure to BPA is 55X greater with a hot liquid in a BPA plastic lined cup than a cool liquid.
Phthalates Are Worse
Phthalates are no safer. They are chemical additives used to soften plastic for improved flexibility, transparency & durability. Unfortunately, not only are Phthalates widespread in foods & cosmetic products, but they off-gas easily. This means that Phthalates can simply be absorbed through the skin & from the air.
Phthalates Can Make You Fat & Infertile
More research has revealed the growing association between Phthalates and varied health concerns. Phthalates have been linked to obesity & insulin resistance, genital deformities, lowered levels of sex hormones and other reproductive dysfunctions (Rustagi et al. 2011). As a result, the use of phthalates in consumer products is now restricted in North America, Australia & the European Union.
PET Are Phthalates In Disguise
The plastic industry countered this ban by asserting that Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles are chemically different and not a source of such dangerous health effects. PET is commonly found in clear plastic bottles for soda, sports drinks, condiments & cosmetic products. Unfortunately, research has found that phthalates in PET bottles can leach into the contents with higher temperatures & more acidic ingredients. A few servings of salad dressing that was stored in a warm warehouse for a month could reach dose limits (Farhoodi et al. 2008).
Phthalates: Toxicity In Your House, Beauty & Healthcare
Phthalates are still found in thousands of food & household products including plastic food packaging, pharmaceuticals, clothing, paint, shower curtains, detergent, carpeting & floor tiles. Additionally, everyone should be weary of phthalates in personal healthcare & cosmetic products such as deodorant, shampoo & conditioner, hairspray, hair products, moisturizer, nail polish, perfume & eye shadow. Even medicine & supplements can have phthalates in the form of binders, fillers, lubricants, enteric coating, emulsifying & suspending agents.
All Plastics Are Created Evil
Initially the spotlight was on certain plastics due to their two dangerous chemicals, Bisphenol A (BPA) & Phthalates. The estrogenic activity in these plastic chemicals have been found to cause many detrimental health effects. However, a recent study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that given the chemicals, processing & additives used in manufacturing, there are no “safe” plastics. In fact, newer BPA-free plastic & corn resins were also tested to find estrogenic chemical leaching from 95% of all plastics tested. Shockingly, some BPA-free products leached chemicals with more estrogenic activity than the products with BPA (Zang et al. 2011).
How To Survive Our Plastic World
The best solution is to avoid plastic in its many forms. Reduce the plastic toxicity in your life & environment using the following recommendations:
- Avoid Bottled Water
- Avoid Plastic Shopping Bags & Vegetable Bags
- Avoid Plastic Food Storage Containers or Dishware
- Avoid Paper & Plastic Cups & Utensils
- Avoid Canned Foods & Plastic Beverage Containers
- Avoid All PVC & Styrene Products
- Avoid “Fragrance” In Household & Body Products
- Do Not Give Infants & Children Plastic Soothers & Toys
- Reheat Food On The Stove
- Avoid Plastic & Foam Containers When Microwaving Food
- Wear & Play With Natural Fabrics (Cotton, Bamboo)
- Use Biodegradable Bags For Pet Waste
- Look for Phthalate-Free or DEP-Free Products
- Recycling Codes To Avoid: Codes 3 & 7
- Recycling Codes To Use If You Must: Codes 1 & 2 & 5 (No Phthalates or BPA)
- Get Healthy (See A Licensed Naturopathic Physician)
- Recycle As Much As Possible
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Environmental Protection Agency. Bisphenol A Action Plan. EPA. < https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/bisphenol-bpa-action-plan>.
Farhoodi M, Emam-Djomeh Z, Ehsani MR, Oromiehie A. Effect of environmental conditions on the migration of di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate from PET bottles into yogurt drinks: influence of time, temperature, and food stimulant. Arabian J Sci Eng. 2008;33:279–87.
Halden RU. Plastics and health risks. Annual Review Of Public Health. 2010 Apr 21;31:179-94.
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Bisphenol A (BPA). NIH. < https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/sya-bpa/>.
Rustagi N, Pradhan SK, Singh R. Public health impact of plastics: an overview. Indian Journal Of Occupational And Environmental Medicine. 2011 Sep 1;15(3):100.
Shelby MD. NTP-CERHR monograph on the potential human reproductive and developmental effects of bisphenol A. NTP Cerhr Mon. 2008 Sep(22):v-ii.
University of Cincinnati. Plastic Bottles Release Potentially Harmful Chemicals (Bisphenol A) After Contact With Hot Liquids. ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 February 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080130092108.htm>.
Yan PP, Pan XY, Wang XN, Wang ZC, Li ZX, Wan Y, He Z, Dou ZH. Effects of bisphenol A on the female reproductive organs and their mechanisms. Zhongguo yi xue ke xue yuan xue bao. Acta Academiae Medicinae Sinicae. 2013 Dec;35(6):683-8.
Yang CZ, Yaniger SI, Jordan VC, Klein DJ, Bittner GD. Most plastic products release estrogenic chemicals: a potential health problem that can be solved. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2011 Jul 1;119(7):989.
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