In the wake of Earth Day, let’s take a look at ubiquitous plastic in our lives through another lens besides the dire consequence for the oceans and the planet: polycarbonate plastics, some of which have bioactive chemicals, leaching into our food and water with equally dire consequences to human health. Our health.
There is mounting scientific evidence that plastic from water bottles, yogurt containers, K-cup coffee pods, or any of the many other sources that litter our daily lives, is interfering with essential hormone production and disrupting the delicate balance of the endocrine system, among other serious concerns. Ramifications range from reproductive health (i.e. weaker eggs and decreased sperm count); fetal development; inflammatory responses leading to increased asthma and allergies; cardio-disease; neurodevelopment; obesity and diabetes; and cancer. The American Academy of Pediatrics is urging families to reduce plastic use and calling for more stringent government restrictions and oversight.
More research is needed, but the message is clear — plastic is extremely harmful!
Limiting your exposure isn’t easy, given the presence of plastic in our water supply and everyday products (used as lubricants, binders, emulsifying agents, and suspending agents, plastics are common in medical devices, detergents, packaging, paint, medications, cosmetics, and liquid soap), but all efforts are worthwhile.
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, avoid plastic storage containers.
- Don’t microwave anything in plastic. Heating it increases the release of chemicals. Use glass.
- Chose glass or stainless steel for food storage.
- Avoid plastics with recycling codes 3 (which means it contains phthalates), 6 (styrene), and 7 (bisphenols).
- Pressure local and state governments to strengthen regulations, increase research, and ban single-use plastic bags and styrofoam.