Plastic Containers and Their Harmful Effects

Plastic-Containers-and-Their-Harmful-EffectsPlastic and plastic containers are an unavoidable part of modern living. Plastic containers are convenient, portable, lightweight and as plastic does not shatter, plastic is often considered safer than glass when used in baby bottles and drink containers. However, not all plastics are safe or healthy and many may release toxic chemicals including BPA, BPS, xenoestrogens or lead into your food and beverages.

You probably buy milk, juice and yogurt in plastic containers, your spices and condiments are often stored in convenient plastic containers, and if you enjoyed a bottle of water today, it was most likely from a plastic bottle.

The ice in your freezer is probably in a plastic tray, the cans your fruit, vegetables and chili are packed in are lined with plastic, you cover or wrap leftovers in plastic wrap or a zip-lock bag and your cola or shake is often served in styrofoam. As much as 90% of your food comes in contact with plastic, shouldn’t you choose plastic containers that are safer?

Know Your Numbers

One way to easily identify which plastics are used in your container is to check the Plastic ID Code on the bottom. The number inside the triangle is intended to identify the method of recycling for the container, but you can use it to identify and avoid potentially dangerous chemicals.

#1 – PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) is often used for water bottles, soda bottles and condiments. This plastic is relatively safe, but contain trace amounts of antimony, a heavy metal used in manufacturing the container.

#2 – HDPE (high-density polyethylene) is often used in milk containers, yogurt and butter tubs and the plastic bag that holds cereals inside the box. This plastic is often considered a low-toxin plastic but may release xenoestrogens, an estrogen hormone mimicking chemical over time.

#3 – PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is used in cooking oil containers, meat packing, shrink wrap and zip-lock baggies, and may be in the containers that hold your medications. PVC contains toxic chemicals including lead and phthalates which are used to soften plastics. These chemicals are dangerous and are known to interfere with your endocrine system.

#4 – LDPE (low-density polyethylene) is often used in bread and bakery bags, produce bags, squeeze bottles and plastic lined paper milk and juice cartons. LDPE is considered a low-toxin plastic and does not contain BPA.

#5 – PP (polypropylene) is often used in drinking straws, yogurt tubs and squeezable condiment and syrup containers. Polypropylene is considered a low-toxin plastic.

#6 – PS (polystyrene) also known as styrofoam and used in egg cartons, many take-out containers and drink cups. When heated, polystyrene releases styrene, a nerve toxin and known carcinogen.

#7 – Other. This plastic container uses a combination or blend of plastics and may also be referred to as a polycarbonate. Containers assigned the number 7 are more likely to contain BPA (bisphenol-A) a synthetic estrogen which can leach into your food and drinks over time or when exposed to heat.

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