A Quick Mini Breakdown On The Effects of Plastic on Human Health
Are you thinking about going “plastic-free” in your kitchen, bathroom, or home in general? Let’s have a quick mini toxic breakdown course in the effects of plastic on human health. Because when you understand why it matters so much, it’s even more likely you’ll make the change! Knowlege is power - it’s extra motivation to make another simple change that matters!
Three of the biggest, and most harmful, chemicals in plastics are bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates, and polyethylene terephthalate (PET). They act as hormone disruptors. We women have enough problems with our hormones without the presence of plastics that mess them up even more!
· BPA mimics the hormone estrogen, creating imbalances. BPA is used to make plastics hard and lightweight, like reusable water bottles. If' it’s not labeled BPA-Free, it probably has BPA in it!
· Phthalates are chemicals used to make plastics lighter and more flexible, like in plastic wrap and shower curtains. Phthalates mimic the hormone testosterone. Both can cause cancer, damage to the reproduction system, and behavioral changes. Children and babies still in the womb are most sensitive to the effects of chemicals.
· PET is the third plastic, and most commonly found in water bottles. It’s also been linked to infertility and having developmental defects. We actually have a whole post about plastic water bottles that goes further in depth about these chemicals and their negative effects.
Various people, typically those backed by companies making plastic (just sayin'!), argue that the amount of these chemicals we’re consuming hasn’t been proven unsafe. That’s absolutely true! But they haven’t been proven safe either. And we’re opting out of the science experiment we never signed up for!
In fact, in more recent studies, scientists have discovered that the amount of BPA it takes to cause damage is a lot lower than we thought. Animals with BPA in their systems are more likely to have miscarriages, cancer, and be obese. Humans have significantly higher amounts of BPA than those animals do in our systems.
In fact, over 90% of people have BPA in their systems.
A survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 93% of people tested had BPA in their urine.
It’s undeniable that migration of plastic chemicals into our bodies is occurring, the true questions are “How much?” and “How much until it’s toxic?” Well, we’re not sure how much.
The FDA claims that the amount of chemicals migrating isn’t a lot, but accumulation isn't accounted for when they say that. (Meaning you get exposed to plastic is A LOT of ways all day long and it starts to accumulate and really add up!)
Think about it: if each time we buy food packaged in plastic and a little bit of chemicals leach, those chemicals add up in our body with each exposure.
Maybe a better question is, “What products are there WITHOUT these chemicals?”
Since there are studies that show health implications we don't want, including cancer, and not enough definitive research saying it's safe, we are all about skipping plastic whenever possible, especially in the kitchen around the food we eat.
Chemicals in plastic leak into your food. If you’re like us the first time you heard that, you were probably thinking “Whaaaaat?” But it’s true!
Migration is the transfer of chemical substances from plastic to the product that’s stored in it: food, beauty products, cleaning products, your skin, etc. This is also called “leaching.”
Migration occurs most commonly in fatty, acidic, or salty foods, but really occurs whenever plastic touches food or beverages, making your kitchen an important place to start. Migration increases when plastic is heated, so when you avoid microwaving plastics or putting them in the dishwasher you stop a lot of it.
And that's a great place to start: simply stop microwaving anything in a plastic container or storing food in plastic containers and you’re limiting a lot of your exposure! Avoid stirring hot foods (like soup in the winter) with plastic utensils as well.
From there you start switching to plastic free items as you can. We've made it simple to start making switches in this whole post packed full of information to help you create a plastic-free kitchen!
And you can find a whole page of our resources on going plastic free here!
What questions do you have about plastic and going plastic free? Let us know! Have any tips how you’re slowly switching to a plastic free home? Share them!