Our generation has been named the ‘plastic age’ as we produce over a billion tonnes of plastic, every four years, according to The Plastic Age Documentary by I-D, Vice News. We are ignoring the implications of these cheap, heavily durable materials on our health. Studies have shown that humans consume a significant amount of industrial chemicals everyday, some of which still remain in our bodies.
Many of you may have heard that plastic takeaway boxes, bottles and lunch boxes are unsafe as they contain carcinogens, we have compiled the facts to reveal the truth.
Did you know there are many types of plastics?
Listing the different types of plastics can consume this entire page. Some common forms of plastics are polyethylene terephthalate (PETE), polystyrene (styrofoam), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon), polyvinylidine chloride (saran), polyethylene (HDPE), etc. Each form of plastic has a separate usage and can form different materials that we all use in our daily lives like plastic bottles, cookware, takeaway boxes, plastic bags, disposable gloves, ziplock bags, and many more.
What substances are added to plastic?
Plastic cannot be generalised as it is made from an array of inorganic and organic compounds. Other substances are added to plastic to stabilise it and help it keep its shape. The two main substances that are added include, phthalates that makes plastics flexible and soft, bisphenol-A (BPA), which makes them hard and clear. BPA was the substance that raised several health concerns towards the safety of plastic in the food industry.
“For many years, the plastics incorporating BPA were believed to be safe,” Now that there are many questions about BPA, “that does raise broader questions about the safety of plastics in general,”
Dr. Anila Jacob, MD, senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group, said on WebMD.
Plastic can get into our food from containers
The process know as “leaching” or “migration” can cause extremely tiny bits of plastic from the container to get into our food. Dr. Laura Vandenberg, PhD, Tufts University in Boston, says that almost any plastic container can be expected to leach small amounts of plastic into our food. This transfer increases once we heat the food, easing the migration process. This migration can also escalate if the food is salty, fatty or acidic. Surprisingly, some water bottles and baby-feeding bottles are also made with BPA. According to WebMD, a shocking 90% of us have detectable levels of BPA in our bodies, as BPA gets into our bloodstream. Dr. Vanderberg outlined the ability of BPA to disrupt hormonal functions, particularly oestrogen.
Health Tip ⚠ — Transfer your food into ceramic or glass containers before heating them in the microwave.
So, maybe before we overload our cupboards with plastic boxes, we should think about their effects on our health. This being said, various forms of plastic are made with different substances, so, do your research on the type of plastic you are going to purchase.