About the Harmful Effects of Plastic Containers

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Plastic containers are everywhere. We use them to store and package our food. We drink water from them, and we use them to hold our toiletries and personal items. However, chemicals and additives used to make plastic containers have negative health consequences. Diseases and conditions have been linked to the leaching of chemicals from plastic containers. These chemicals spread from the plastics to our food and water, causing us to experience harmful effects.

Leaching

  • When plastic containers are exposed to heat, resins and synthetic chemicals are released into our food and beverages. This is also known as leaching. Plastics leach toxic chemicals when they are exposed to heat from the dishwasher, microwave or hot liquids.When people are exposed to these chemicals on a regular basis, they can have harmful side effects. Plastics made from BPA, such as polycarbonate and epoxy resins, leach the fastest when exposed to heat.

BPA

  • Bisphenol A, also known as BPA, is a chemical compound found in many plastic containers. The United States manufactures 2.3 billion pounds of BPA each year for use in items like plastic cups and baby bottles. BPA’s properties help to make plastic containers transparent and shatter-proof. The highest content of BPA is found in clear plastic containers.

    “The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) found traces of BPA in nearly all of the urine samples it collected in 2004,” according to The Scientific American. Although BPA does not linger in the body for very long, continual use of plastics made from BPA leads to constant low-level exposure. The Environmental Protection agency notes that humans are exposed to 10 times the recommended amount of BPA on a regular basis. (See Reference 2)

Diseases Linked to Plastics

  • BPA used in plastic containers is linked to breast cancer. BPA binds to the same receptors in the body as estrogen, promoting the growth of cancer cells. Chemicals that leach out from plastic containers are also linked to prostate cancer, as chemicals store inside body fat, thereby elevating the risk. Additionally, chemicals used in plastic containers such as food packaging and water bottles have also been linked to diabetes. Continual exposure to these chemicals causes insulin resistance that leads to type II diabetes.

Conditions Linked to Plastics

  • Negative health conditions are also associated with chemicals that leach from plastic containers. Plastics used in food packaging and cosmetic cases have been linked to chronic bronchitis, ulcers and liver dysfunction. Plastics used in water bottles have been tied to early-onset puberty as well as obesity and hyperactivity. Containers used to house meat, fish, cheese and yogurt products have the potential to irritate the eyes, nose and throat, which can aggravate allergies and lead to other respiratory problems.

References

  • Photo Credit Nossa Productions/Photodisc/Getty Images
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