Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I was talking to my mom last week and she told me of a news report she had heard about chemicals in plastics. Some of these chemicals can leach into our food and cause health problems. I've been doing a little research and thought I'd share what I have found.

A lot of plastics have a recycle symbol with a number in it. These are the numbers you need to look at before buying products. The below picture shows everything I have found with a number 3 inside the recycle symbol.
The chemical that causes concern with this number is DEHA. DEHA leaches into our food but is worse when it is heated. Most of my plastic containers I store left overs in have this chemical. I don't know about you but I do my dishes as soon as the meal is over. So most of the time I am putting warm to hot food away in them which heats the plastic. When we eat the leftovers I generally throw the whole thing into the microwave once again heating the plastic. DEHA has a negative effect on the liver, kidney, spleen, bone formation and body weight. The below picture contains the #6 in the recylce symbol. The chemical causing concern is Styrene. This chemical is toxic to the brain and nervous system among workers with long term exposures. It also affects red blood cells, liver, kidney and the stomach in animal studies. I was given the oregano in the below picture at my bridal shower 6 1/2 years ago. Who knows how long it sat on the shelf before it was bought. How long is "long term exposure"? I wonder how much Styrene is absorbed into the spices, mustard and excedrin below. These pictures are just what I have found around my house. I wonder how many plastic containers are sitting on the shelves at a local grocery store. My Huggies wipe container also has this symbol.
The below picture has the #7. I found this to be the most concerning. The chemical is called Bisphenol A (BPA). Human exposure to BPA is widespread. A Centers for Disease Control study detected BPA in the urine of 95 percent of adults samples. Scientists have measured BPA in the blood of pregnant women, in umbilicla cord blood and in the placenta, all at levels demonstrated in animals to alter development. WOW!! BPA has been found to stimulate prostate cancer cells and causes breast tissue changes that resemble early stages of breast cancer in both mice and humans. Early life exposure can also cause genetic damage. BPA can lead to spontaneous miscarriages and birth defects. BPA has also been linked to early onset of puberty, and stimulation of mammary gland development in females. CHANGES IN GENDER-SPECIFIC BEHAVIOR, increased prostate size, changes in hormones, including decreased testosterone, and decreased sperm production. Also behavioral effects including, hyperactivity, increased aggressiveness and impaired learning.
I was surprised to learn that most plastic baby bottles and sippy cups are made of BPA. The report read that most baby bottles are not labeled. In the above picture I show a Gerber sippy cup. I have 3 of these that have the indicated sign on it along with the only bottle I have left and the green tonka sippee. I have a few other brand sippy cups that are not labeled. I have sippee cups and plastic children cups with the #3. It is recommended to use glass baby bottles. Looking at my regular drinking cups that I have none of them have a recycle symbol on thembut I have 3 that have the #2, three with the #4, three with the #6 and three with the #7. I don't know what these numbers mean. They are identical cups that I bought all at once so I'm confused with the different numbers. As much as I don't like the idea of buying glass with my young kids maybe it's not worth the risk not knowing what chemicals these plastic cups have in them. This report also suggests to avoid plastic bottles of water and water jugs when you can because it is less regulated. When your plastic bottles and containers are scratched or just old it leakes more of the chemical.

This report also cutioned against plastic wrap. It should not be used in the microwave. I use it often to bake potatos when I don't have time for the oven. Even "microwave safe" does not mean there is no leaching of chemicals.

Safer choices of plastics have the #'s 1,2,4,5. Avoid #'s 3,6,7. I found several different reports on the web all saying the same thing. I just typed in Smart Plastics Guide. The website with the report I found I could understand the best I found on

I hope I didn't bore you I found this rather interesting.


Camille said...

no, not boring at all. Really very helpful. I may have a link on my blog for my friends to go read yours. :)
Your mom told me about it when I was up there, and I have checked a few of my random plastic things in the fridge and so far everything I have- has a #1 on it. But I'll check further.

Camille said...

ok, I just checked like everything plastic and I found NO 3, 6, or 7's! So I dont know where you buy your poisonous food, but geesh! LOL
I will have to start paying attention when I am buying stuff though