Whilst plastic does have many handy uses it needs to be treated with caution when in contact with food. Chemicals can get into the food and cause health problems which will affect your immunity, change behavior, cause cancers and organ damage in fetuses and children.
Last year, phthalates and bisphenol A were banned in America from child care products and toys. These two substances are hormonal disabling chemicals which could interfere with the development of the child. Bisphenol A (BPA) is contained in many polycarbonate plastic products labeled as microwavable. This takes in a range of cutlery, linings for food containers, drink containers, baby bottles etc.
This chemical interrupts the body's normal hormones and copies the effects of estrogen. Rats in labs exposed to BPA suffer miscarriages, birth defects, mental retardation, early puberty, breast and prostate cancers, and reduced sperm counts. It also inhibits the formation of the hippocampus, or memory center.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in USA detected BPA in the urine of many thousands of people. Frederick von Saal, PhD, a professor of reproductive biology at the University of Missouri-Columbia, has been researching this for 30 years and believes that they are a danger to our children and foetuses. He found only a small amount of the chemical is needed to alter cells. Other studies substantiate his work.
This is important because deterioration and aging of products causes chemicals to leach. Plastic baby bottles when they are boiled could leak chemicals which mirror oestrogen. This is why polycarbonate dishes and cutlery are so bad. So it is safer to microwave in glass or ceramic and to use glass or opaque, non toxic bottles.
Further to this we all know the problems of polystyrene sometimes used for cups and clear take away containers. These are bad as they can again leach styrene which is possibly carcinogenic into food causing damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs and brain. Although only small doses are getting into your system it could all add up. This is why hot liquids and fatty foods as well as alcohol should not be drunk from styrofoam cups.
In USA meats and cheeses are often wrapped in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which contains plasticisers to make it more flexible. These chemicals are called adipates and phthalates and if they leach into hot fatty foods it has been shown that in mice they can cause birth defects, foetal death, and damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive systems. This is not the type of plastic in 'cling wrap' but it is important to not let plastic wrap touch food in the microwave. Better to play it safe.
It is also important to take note of what type of plastic bottles we are using as all soft plastics have the potential to leach chemicals into food and drink. Plastic bottles should not be reused as washing can speed up the breakdown of chemicals called adipates. Also heat from the sun can damage as much as the microwave so do not leave your water sitting in the car.
Plastics to avoid are polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, polycarbonate made from bisphenol A. However polyethylene terephthalate as used in PET bottles, high-density polyethylene used in milk and water bottles, low-density polyethylene found in wrapping plastic and grocery bags and polypropylene used in yogurt tubs and syrup bottles are much 'safer'.
Do you use plastic or other artificial substances which could be causing allergies and making you 'toxic'? Why not get tested?