by in Home Health, Other January 12, 2014


cloud-shaped icon recyclingSo, the dish on plastics… “Hormonally Harmful”….. For instance, BPA has been heavily studied as an endocrine disruptor, and until recently, BPA was used in baby bottles.  BPA mimics estrogen in the body and excess estrogen is a major cause of cancer, obesity, diabetes, and to make a long list shorter- chronic disease.  If you’d like to learn about estrogen and its role in the body and in cancer, click here!

The FDA-

BPA is a structural component in polycarbonate beverage bottles. It is also a component in metal can coatings, which protect the food from directly contacting metal surfaces. BPA has been used in food packaging since the 1960s.

In 2010, The Harvard School of Public Health released an article, Plastics: Danger where we least expect it, an amazing write up about Bisphenol A (BPA)- the confusion about its safety and possible ill effects on health.  There has been concern regarding BPA for the past decade.  Europe banned BPA in baby bottles in 2008.  State and local US Governments began doing the same shortly after.  However, it wasn’t until July 17, 2012 when the Department of Health and Human Services FDA finally released: FDA Amends Food Additive Regulations – No BPA in Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups.

Where is BPA found?

  • some dental sealants and composites
  • lining of metal food cans
  • compact dics
  • medical devices
  • water supply pipes
  • some plastic bottles (#3 and #7)

How can I limit my exposure to BPA?

  • drink out of stainless steel or glass water bottles
  • limit your intake of foods from metal cans (especially acidic foods like tomatoes- the acid breaks down the can lining much faster, increasing the amount of BPA that leaches into your food)
  • DO NOT microwave your foods in plastic containers
  • try using glass storage containers as much as possible
  • ask your dentist for BPA free composite fillings when needed

Where can I go for more information?


recycle-plastics pictureThe “chasing arrows” symbol at the bottom of your plastic container does not necessarily mean it is recyclable.  The number inside the arrow is the important part.  The following seven types of plastics aren’t necessarily safe either.  Plastics #1, 2, 4, and 5 have been the “safe” plastics and #3, 6, and 7 have been considered “unsafe.”  Recently though, there has been research to prove the “safer” plastics might not be that safe at all.

#1 — PETE or PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)

Composition with assorted plastic bottles of mineral waterPolyethylene Terephthalate (PETE or PET): includes clear plastic soda and water bottles; oven-friendly film and microwavable food trays; generally considered OK to use, but don’t reuse (SAFE? for one time use)

PET is recyclable plastic that does NOT contain BPA.  PET is found in most single-serve plastic bottles, including those for water, soda, and juice. The International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) is a nonprofit, worldwide organization whose mission is to provide science that improves human health and well-being and safeguards the environment.  The ILSI drafted a document concerning the safety of PET:

PET is an acronym for polyethylene terephthalate, which is a long-chain polymer belonging to the generic family of polyesters [1]. PET is formed from the intermediates, terephthalic acid (TPA) and ethylene glycol (EG), which are both derived from oil feedstock. There are other polyesters based on different intermediates but all are formed by a polymerisation reaction between an acid and an alcohol.

You can find more information about PET and greenhouse gas emissions here.

There is one big problem with PET and this is antimony.  Have you heard that #1 plastics can only be used one time and then need to be thrown away?  Or that you should not keep your plastic bottles in the car when it’s hot out (study here)?  This is why: antimony leaches from the plastic at higher temperatures.  The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) states:

….health effects (from antimony) include diarrhea, joint and/or muscle pain, vomiting, problems with the blood (anemia) and heart problems (altered electrocardiograms).

You can read the full CDC report on antimony here.

And in 2012 there was a study that showed brominated compounds can also leach from PET bottles.  Polybrominated biphenyl ether (PBDE) exposure in children may be associated with cardiovascular and psychological functions, study here.

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#2 — HDPE (High Density Polyethylene)

High Density Polyethylene (HDPE): includes opaque milk jugs, detergent bottles, juice bottles, butter tubs and toiletry bottles; considered OK to use (SAFE? for one time use)

HDPE is considered a low hazard plastic.

A study in 2011 showed most plastic products release estrogenic chemicals — including HDPE:

“Almost all commercially available plastic products we sampled, independent of the type of resin, product, or retail source, leached chemicals having reliably-detectable EA, including those advertised as BPA-free,” the study concludes. “In some cases, BPA-free products released chemicals having more EA than BPA-containing products.”

Estrogenic activity (EA) exposure has been shown to alter the structure of human cells, posing potential risks to infants and children. 

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#3 — PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

Are you looking at me?Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC): includes food wrap, cooking oil bottles, and plumbing pipes; do not cook food in these plastics and try to minimize using no. 3 plastics around any type of food (use wax paper instead of plastic wrap and use glass containers in the microwave) NOT SAFE

Di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) which is found in PVC can leech out into your food according to the National Institutes of Health.  Di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) is a carcinogen.

United States Environmental Protection Agency:

“No information is available on the chronic, reproductive, developmental, or carcinogenic effects of DEHP in humans.  Animal studies have reported increased lung weights and increased liver weights from chronic inhalation exposure to DEHP.  Oral exposure has resulted in developmental and reproductive effects in rats and mice.  A study by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) showed that DEHP administered orally increased the incidence of liver tumors in rats and mice.  EPA has classified DEHP as a Group B2, probable human carcinogen.”

You can find more information on the toxic effects of PVC:

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#4 — LDPE (Low- Density Polyethylene)

Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE): includes grocery bags, some food wraps, squeezable bottles, and bread bags; considered OK to use (SAFE?)

Low- Density Polyethlene (LDPE) is a thermoplastic made from petroleum.  Most plastic grocery bags, shrink wrap, coatings for paper milk and juice containers, bags for frozen foods, and squeeze bottles (like mustard, ketchup, honey) are made from #4 plastic.

I haven’t found (yet) any studies linking health concerns with this plastic.

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#5 — PP (Polypropylene)

Polypropylene: includes most yogurt cups, water bottles with a cloudy finish, medicine bottles, ketchup and syrup bottles, and straws; considered OK to use (SAFE?)

Polypropylene is a thermoplastic polymer and found to be perhaps the safest of the plastics.  Most baby products are made of this type of plastic, including plastic bottles, cups, and bowels.

It is IMPORTANT to remember that you should NOT microwave this plastic, nor should it go in the dishwasher.  Manufacturers say it’s safe only because this plastic does not warp under higher heat temperatures.

I haven’t found (yet) any studies linking health concerns with this plastic.

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#6 — PS (Polystyrene/Styrofoam)

Polystyrene/Styrofoam: includes disposable foam plates and cups and packing materials; do not cook food in these plastics and avoid using no. 6 plastics around any type of food NOT SAFE

I dislike you, polystyrene, also known as styrofoam!  The big problem with this plastic (besides it’s terrible for the environment) is that it leaches styrene.  The EPA admits that styrene is an associated with an increased risk of leukemia and lymphoma.

According to a Foundation for Achievements in Science and Education fact sheet, long term exposure to small quantities of styrene can cause neurotoxic (fatigue, nervousness, difficulty sleeping), hematological (low platelet and hemoglobin values), cytogenetic (chromosomal and lymphatic abnormalities), and carcinogenic effects.

  • Styrene leaches at higher temperatures, so DO NOT drink coffee or hot tea out of styrofoam cups.
  • Here is the CDC’s official statement on styrene.
  • Here is some great information about styrene from the Environmental Justice Activists.

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#7 — Other (BPA, Polycarbonate and LEXAN)

NOT SAFE All other plastics not included in the other categories and mixes of plastics 1 through 6 are labeled with a 7, including compact discs, computer cases, BPA-containing products, and some baby bottles. 

PLA (polymer polylactide)SAFE? a plastic made from plants (usually corn or sugarcane) that is also labeled with a 7. PLA plastics don’t contain BPA; no safety concerns have been raised about using PLA plastic with food. Right now, it can be difficult to tell the difference between a PLA no. 7 plastic and a BPA-containing no. 7 plastic. Some PLA plastics may also say “PLA” near the recycling symbol. Others may have a leaf symbol near the recycling symbol.To clear up any confusion, the manufacturers of PLA plastic are working with the American Society for Testing and Materials International, a global group that develops standards, to create a new recycling numbering system that would give PLA plastic its own number.Do not cook food in no. 7 plastics that aren’t PLA and avoid using non-PLA no. 7 plastics around any type of food.

And #7 is worst of all because generally this plastic contains BPA.

Just one week of using this plastic can increase urinary BPA concentration by two-thirds.  CRAZY.

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Your best bet is to try limiting plastics the best you can.  Stainless steel and glass are great options.  Also, DO NOT microwave any plastic and DO NOT place plastic in the dishwasher.

Let’s continue on our journey to detoxify ourselves and our environment.  And the easiest way to detoxify yourself and family is to limit your exposure to toxins the best you can!

For more ways to continue on your detox journey, also try:

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