Products made of plastics are beneficial in many ways, durable, cheap and convenient. However, they have a dark side. Recycling and disposal of them stay insufficient, causing accumulation of waste in seas and landfills, pollution and chemical sludge.
In addition to ecological problems, chemical components of plastics can have a severe negative impact on human health. People put themselves in danger using plastic packaging, because some chemicals move from the containers to the food. Two types of plastic-related chemicals are extremely hazardous for humans – bisphenol-A or BPA, and additives used in the synthesis of plastics, which are called phthalates. Plastic components can be absorbed by the body – 93 percent of Americans age six or older test positive for BPA.
Here are 6 Adverse Health Effects of Plastic
1. Plastics can affect your hormones
There are endocrine disruptors like BPA and phthalates in almost each form of plastic.
BPA is an industrial chemical found in numerous plastic products, such as water bottles, dental sealants, food can linings, and on the paper cashier receipts. Its estrogen-like activity makes it a hormone disruptor, in the same way as many other chemicals in plastics. Hormone disruptors can have an influence on how estrogen and other hormones act in the body, by blocking or mimicking them, which breaks body's hormonal balance. A government team issued a report claiming that BPA might be an obesogen, a chemical that is linked to obesity. Since estrogen can make hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer develop and grow, many women choose to limit their exposure to BPA and phthalates.
2. Exposure to carcinogens
According to Canadian Cancer Society, about 206,200 new cases of cancer and 80,800 deaths from cancer will happen in Canada in 2017. Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada and is responsible for 30% of all deaths.
Many kinds of plastic known for their carcinogenic activity. German scientists found back in 2009 that PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) plastic is much similar to the infamous BPA chemical in that it can interfere with hormone production. The results of such exposure, if left unchecked, can increase one’s risk of developing hormone-related diseases, like Breast cancer, Prostate cancer and Thyroid cancer.
Then there’s polystyrene, which is recognized as a possible human cancer-causing agent. Also known by the brand name Styrofoam, this plastic material contains in takeout food containers and to-go cups. Scientific studies have linked it to reproductive health issues. Research out of Harvard University suggests polystyrene may cause chromosomal harm and different types of cancer. As of July 1, 2015, New York City banned polystyrene or Styrofoam containers.
3. Immune system suppression
Our immune system recognizes and neutralizes harmful substances from the environment, but constant plastic pollution can affect it and cause chemical pollution-related chronic diseases. Phthalates (DEHP, DINP, and others), for example, are linked to asthma, developmental and reproductive effects. They are causing declining sperm counts, infertility, endometriosis, and immune system impairment.
4. Respiratory-tract irritation
According to Ecology Center in California, urea-formaldehyde used in fabric finishes, plywood, particle board, building insulation is a suspected carcinogen. Inhaling formaldehyde can cause breathing issues, watery eyes, cough, swelling of the throat, headaches, rashes. Polyurethane Foam contains in mattresses, pillows and cushions can release toluene diisocyanate which can produce bronchitis, coughing and severe lung problems.
5. Skin diseases
Polyester, which can be found in clothing, bedding, diapers, tampons, food packaging and upholstery can cause eye and respiratory-tract irritation and acute skin rashes. According to Dermatologist Joseph Fowler, there are a bunch of chemicals in plastics that can cause an allergy, usually when they're in the raw material state, and the unfinished products.
6. Developmental and reproductive effect
Urea-formaldehyde has been shown to cause birth defects and genetic changes. BPA also causes various of genetic errors in the chromosomal chain, provoking miscarriages in women.
New research published in the Environment International Journal shows that pregnant women exposed to BPA in high doses can potentially lead to low birth weight in newborn children. It's also been shown to affect brain and behavioural development in children.
To save yourself and your children, try to avoid plastic when it is possible
- UreaAvoid plastic containers for heating food, do not put them in the microwave
- Do not store fatty foods in plastic containers or plastic wraps
- Buy food in metal or glass containers
- Avoid water bottles with Bisphenol-A (number 7 on the bottom of the bottle)
- Do not give children plastic toys
- Use natural clothing, bedding and furniture
- Avoid all PVC and Styrene products (numbers 3 and 6)
- Go green. Sustainable packaging has become very popular over the past few years when businesses have realized that eco-friendly materials attract a growing customer audience.
At Bio-Origins we offer a wide range of natural, biodegradable tableware for personal and business use. Made from postharvest biomass, it is completely safe for the people and for the environment.