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Which Plastics Are Safe?
Adapted from Green Remodeling, by David Johnston and Kim Master (New Society Publishers, 2004).
The news about plastics has been pretty alarming lately, causing some of us to go dashing for the water bottles to see what kind of plastic they are--and find out if we’ve been unwittingly poisoning our children and ourselves with chemicals leaching into the water from them.
If you’ve been concerned, here is a handy chart that identifies the good, bad, and ok plastics and where they are found. Find out here:
1. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE) Used to make soft drink, water, sports drink, ketchup, and salad dressing bottles, and peanut butter, pickle, jelly and jam jars. GOOD: Not known to leach any chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting hormones.
2. High density polyethylene (HDPE) Milk, water, and juice bottles, yogurt and margarine tubs, cereal box liners, and grocery, trash, and retail bags. GOOD: Not known to leach any chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting hormones.
3. Polyvinyl chloride (V or PVC) Most cling-wrapped meats, cheeses, and other foods sold in delicatessens and groceries are wrapped in PVC. BAD: To soften into its flexible form, manufacturers add “plasticizers” during production. Traces of these chemicals can leach out of PVC when in contact with foods. According to the National Institutes of Health, di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), commonly found in PVC, is a suspected human carcinogen.
4. Low density polyethylene (LDPE) Some bread and frozen food bags and squeezable bottles. OK: Not known to leach any chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting hormones, but not as widely recycled as #1 or #2.
5. Polypropylene (PP) Some ketchup bottles and yogurt and margarine tubs. OK: Hazardous during production, but not known to leach any chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting hormones. Not as widely recycled as #1 and #2.
6. Polystyrene (PS) Foam insulation and also for hard applications (e.g. cups, some toys) BAD: Benzene (material used in production) is a known human carcinogen. Butadiene and styrene (the basic building block of the plastic) are suspected carcinogens. Energy intensive and poor recycling.
7. Other (usually polycarbonate) Baby bottles, microwave ovenware, eating utensils, plastic coating for metal cans BAD: Made with biphenyl-A, a chemical invented in the 1930s in search for synthetic estrogens. A hormone disruptor. Simulates the action of estrogen when tested in human breast cancer studies. Can leach into food as product ages.
Copyright: Adapted from Green Remodeling, by David Johnston and Kim Master (New Society Publishers, 2004).Copyright (c) 2004 by David Johnston and Kim Master. Reprinted by permission of New Society Publishers.
----------------Addendum; another article on one specifically toxic plastic-----------------
sorry this latter one's a bit more confusing to read, because it's not a 'labeled' plastic type, but it's still valid & informative:
Wellness Wire: One Plastic to be Sure to Avoid
by Annie Berthold-Bond,
Care2.com Producer, Green Living Channels Simple Solution
The National Toxicology Program (NTP) has recently published a report about seven plasticizers (known as phthalates) found in a variety of polyvinyl chloride-based products, and isolates one to be the most concerned about as a hormone disrupter in humans and wildlife.
After intensive evaluation of seven phthalates, the only one that presents a serious concern to human reproduction or development, according to the study, is Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, or DEHP. The concern is when boys are exposed to medical procedures using phthalate-containing equipment such as intravenous bags and tubing, and is of particular concern for premature babies. When the developing reproductive tract of male infants is exposed to high concentrations of the phthalate through medical procedures, the researchers found adverse effects.
The panel of researchers were not overly concerned about DEHP's effect on adults.
The other plasticizers tested were butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP), di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP), di-isononyl phthalate (DINP), di-isodecyl phthalate (DIDP), di-n-hexyl phthalate (DnHP), and di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP). The chemicals were selected based on their high production volume, but it isn't very clear where these phythalates end up in consumer products, although flexible tubing and plastic toys are two categories where many of these phthalates are used. Polyvinycl chloride is found in bottles of wax, shampoos, vegetable oils, salad dressing, mouthwashes, mineral water, and lunch meat wrap.
The normal plastic symbols for recycling don't include any of those plasticizers for identification, although some of those seven may well fall into some of the recycling categories, such as recycling symbol number three, which is PVC.
The recycling categories are No. 2: PETE (polyethyelene terephthalate); No. 2: HDPE (high-density polyethylene); No. 3: PVC (vinyl, polyvinyl chloride); No. 4: LDPE (low-density polyethylene); No. 5: PP (polypropylene); No. 6: PS (polystyrene), and No. 7: Other (primarily multilayered plastics).
Source of the 2nd study
Key Terms: plastics, DEHP, endocrine disruption
Disclaimer: Care2.com does not warrant and shall have no liability for information provided in this newsletter or on Care2.com. Each individual person, fabric, or material may react differently to a particular suggested use. It is recommended that before you begin to use any formula, you read the directions carefully and test it first. Should you have any health care-related questions or concerns, please call or see your physician or other health care provider.