The Most Harmful Types of Plastic

July 1, 2015 Lifestyle

bottles_plastic_bottle_bottleA brief inventory of the objects you use everyday might be scary in terms of how many of them are made of plastic. You could avoid the overuse of plastic if you choose to replace plastic bottles with glass or stainless steel bottles and use only clothes made from natural fabrics, especially for children because plastic could be harmful to them. Toys could also be replaced with objects made of cotton, though many of the toys are BPA free these days.

Plastic is made from petroleum and likely to be toxic to the environment, human and animal health. But let’s find a bit more about some of the most harmful plastics that you should avoid as much as possible: polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride,  and polycarbonate.

PVC or polyvinyl chloride is probably the substance most extensively used – from jars and other food containers, to mattress covers, toys and detergent containers, you will find it everywhere. PVC is very harmful as it may contain phthalates, incriminated for birth defects and endocrine problems in boys and also responsible for the release of a carcinogen dioxin into the environment, affecting both humans and animals. Phthalates are also used as solvents in shampoo, nail polish and hair spray. Other negative effects of phthalates are, according to some studies, liver cancer, reduced sperm counts and testicular atrophy.

Polystyrene which is usually found in rigid plastics like meat trays or coffee cups can contain a neurotoxin with negative health effects like infertility or cancer.

Polycarbonate found in water bottles, including baby bottles, but also in food containers, CDs, or DVDs contains the “famous” BPA (bisphenol-A), a substance affecting the endocrine system and also linked to cancer, obesity, or early puberty. Children are the most exposed to its negative effects. Lately a newer formula has been developed: the green plastics can be made from potatoes, corn or rice, making them safe for use. Check the labels to see if this is the case in the products you use.

With plastic to be found practically everywhere the best ways to avoid its negative effects are to use only BPA-free products for children and infants – teethers or toys, avoid heating food in plastic containers, avoid putting plastic products in dishwashers and hand wash them gently. Last, but not least, support the companies which don’t use harmful plastics for their products and, whenever possible, use safe substances instead.