Plastic is everywhere—it's used in consumer products and packaging of all kinds. And while it solves a lot of problems for manufacturers and can seem convenient to consumers, there are also serious risks to human health and the environment from its widespread use.
Three plastics have been shown to leach toxic chemicals when heated, worn or put under pressure: polycarbonate, which leaches bisphenol A; polystyrene, which leaches styrene; and PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, which break down into vinyl chloride and sometimes contains phthalates that can leach. And for more specific information about these and other chemicals found in plastics, including what they do and why they're bad for you, look below.
PETE or PET (Polyethylene terephthalate): This is the usually clear plastic commonly used for soft drinks and water bottles. It is considered safe for a single use. It is not stable when heated, so it should never be used to heat anything in the microwave or other means. We recommend avoiding this as much as possible. Even if there is no toxic leaching, single use bottles are an environmental disaster.
HDPE (High Density Polyethylene): Often used in milk bottles, this is milky white when uncolored. Safe as long as there are no colorants or additives that compromise it's safety. More temperature resistant than LDPE.
PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride): Generally not used for food products, but can be used for simulated leather clothing, lunchboxes, backpacks, etc. This plastic contains phthalates and is to be avoided. Can interfere with hormone functioning and has been linked to birth defects and cancer. Can off-gas dangerous chemicals into the air.
LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene): Often used in plastic bags, dispensing bottles, tubing, etc. This is milky white when uncolored. Safe as long as there are no colorants or additives that compromise it's safety. Less temperature resistant than HDPE.
PP (Polypropylene): Often used food in containers, reusable water bottles and lids. Safe as long as there are no colorants or additives that compromise it's safety. More temperature resistant than HDPE Avoid heating food or beverages in any plastic container. Because of it's superior temperature stability, this is perhaps the best of the three safer plastics.
PS (Polystyrene): Often used for egg cartons, styrofoam cups, plastic cutlery and to go containers, This is approved for food contact by the FDA. Polystyrene manufactured for food contact cannot have more than 1% styrene by weight. The international Agency for Research on Cancer and the National Toxicology Program consider it a likely human carcinogen. We recommend this be avoided and please never reheat food in a polystyrene container.
OTHER: This is a catch all category that includes all other plastics not already referenced. The safety of each may be different. The one plastic from this category that may be safe is Tritan, a replacement for Polycarbonate that is used by Nalgene, Camelbak and other manufactures of water bottles, Some scientific studies indicate that Tritan containers leach chemicals that have estrogenic activity in the body. We recommend avoiding this.
Bisphenol A (BPA)
One of the most pervasive chemicals in modern life. It's a building block of polycarbonate (#7 is often polycarbonate) plastic and is used in thousands of consumer products, including food packaging, baby goods! BPA exposure may disrupt normal breast development in ways that predispose women for later life breast cancer.
Phthalates are a group of endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in PVC or #3 plastic. Phthalate exposure has been linked to early puberty in girls, a risk factor for later-life breast cancer. Some phthalates also act as weak estrogens in cell culture systems.
Vinyl chloride is formed in the manufacture of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or #3 plastic. It was one of the first chemicals designated as a known human carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). It has also been linked to increased mortality from breast cancer among workers involved in its manufacture.
Dioxin is formed in the manufacture of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or #3 plastic. Dioxin has been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a known human carcinogen, and is also an endocrine disruptor.
Styrene can leach from polystyrene or #6 plastic and is found in Styrofoam food trays, egg cartons, disposable cups and bowls, carryout containers and opaque plastic cutlery. It has been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a possible human carcinogen.
Makes it easier for your to understand
the real ingredients in cosmetics for example
- Polyethylen PE
- Polypropylen PP
- Polyethylenterephthalat PET
- (Polyester-1; Polyester-11) PES
- (Nylon-12; Nylon-6; Nylon-66) PA
- Polyurethan (Polyurethan-2;
- Polyurethan-14; Polyurethan-35) PUR
- Ethylen-Vinylacetat-Copolymere EVA
- Acrylates Copolymer AC
- Acrylates Crosspolymer ACS
- Polyquaternium-7 P-7