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sarahsugs's avatar

Is plastic really bad for your health?

Asked by sarahsugs (2898points) January 21st, 2007
I'm hearing scary things about what plastic does to one's health lately. Is it for real? Here's what I use: plastic nalgene waterbottle (daily), plastic tupperware for leftovers (almost daily), plastic bags (ziplocks, etc). And what are reasonable alternatives for things such as leftovers, etc?
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28 Answers

gailcalled's avatar
I think that storage is OK, but I use only tempered glass (pyrex) or MW safe ceramic containers (i.e. soup bowl covered w. paper towel) for microwaving. Never Saran wrap. I think the issue is that heat may leach out some of the particles from plastic onto food. For the environment's health, I use as few ziplocks as possible...bowl covered w. plate is fine for storing things in fridge.
gailcalled's avatar
Slightly off-topic, I now take reusable cloth bags and woven baskets everywhere - so don't need plastic bags at supermarket or other stores. I have white, which is a mistake, since they show the dirt. Next time I buy black bags.
sarahsugs's avatar
My friends think I'm crazy, but I do wash and reuse the ziplocks! Moreso ever since I read about 100-year-old giant turtles mistaking them for jellyfish and eating them and dying. It's amazing how long a ziplock lasts.
SwayWithMe's avatar
Some plastics are good and some plastics are bad. I know thats a really wishy washy answer but hey, I wrote a report on this and that was basically my thesis statement. Anyway, as it turns out nalgene bottles tend to have bisphenol-A in them. Drinking water or eating food containing BPA may cause chromosomal disruption, miscarriages, birth defects, or obesity.
gailcalled's avatar
Sarah, I think that its your friends who need educating. And consider about the wildlife that gets snarled up in plastic bags and those plastic containers that cans of beer and soft drinks are attached to (if they still are. Are they?)
gailcalled's avatar
Then there is the recycling issue.
gailcalled's avatar
And the news about BPA is just another reason to wonder why we have strayed so far off the path of sanity. I recently read that using any hair product containing sodium laurate sulfate is BAD, also. So now I get shampoo and creme rinse at the health food store.
gailcalled's avatar
SwayWith, that must have been some succinct thesis.:-) Are there any good plastics, and if so, which?
SwayWithMe's avatar
Those with really long names but easier acronyms. I know that some safe are PP, HDPE, LDPE. Not exactly sure what they stand for but I think I can go check.
SwayWithMe's avatar
Ah Ha. Some safe plastics are PP(Polypropylene), LDPE (Low-density polyethylene), HDPE(High-density polyethylene), and apparently polyethylene terephalate (PET or PETE) used only once.
gailcalled's avatar
Isn't safe plastic an oxymoron? I see no ingredient labels on plastic bags, do I? And what would make you write a thesis on plastics? (Are you old enough to remember Dustin Hoffman in THE GRADUATE?)
SwayWithMe's avatar
As in was I alive when it was made... No. As in have I seen it... Who Hasn't?
SwayWithMe's avatar
Basically all I was trying to say is that virtually all food packaging materials contain substances that can migrate into the food they contact. If you worry about plastics you should worry about everything. The FDA regulates bottled water as a packaged food product and concluded that PET, LDPE, HDPE, PP meet the standards for food contact materials. Basically the only fear that people focus on in bottled water is reusing the bottles. Organizations including the IBWA feel that bottles should be used only once before recycling not because of the harmful compounds but because people can easily spread and digest harmful bacteria by their hands and mouths if the bottles are not properly washed. When you choose to reuse a plastic water bottle, you should clean it like any drinking container. Wash with hot soapy water and dry thoroughly between each use. The concern is that bacteria can thrive in warm, moist environments, and once opened, bacteria can grow in virtually any beverage container under the right conditions.
SwayWithMe's avatar
And that was taken from my paper.
gailcalled's avatar
What about the stainless steel thermal cups for hot beverage that fit into the holder in car? And I am going to throw away all the plastic bottles I have been saving, immediately, except for the wide-mouth ones that can be run thru the dish washer (they can, can't they?)
gailcalled's avatar
And I bet that somewhere, someplace, is someone who hasn't seen THE GRAD. My mother comes to mind :-) Thanks for all the good info.
sarahsugs's avatar
Wow, okay. It's going to be hard to find a replacement for my Nalgene, but I'm going to try.
SwayWithMe's avatar
I think those in the dishwasher are fine. And about you're mother, her loss. I love that movie.
occ's avatar
Hi, someone asked a similar fluther question earlier and there are lots of good ideas about what to use instead of a Nalgene...you can check it out here: http://alpha.fluther.com/ld/466/
diabelle's avatar
Plastics are generally okay to use once, but not to microwave. It breaks down the material and leaks carcinogens into the food. Also, refilling plastic watter bottles has been linked directly to higher instances of breast cancer. The bottles release xenoestrogens (non-natural estrogen) into the system which upsets the balance of hormones in the body.
gailcalled's avatar
Dr. Andrew Weil recently answered this same question. I'm sticking to glass, myself, from now on.
sarahclif's avatar
If you have to use plastic and you have a baby, switch to polypropylene (#5 PP), which is not known to leach harmful substances. (Other plastics that are not known to leach are #2 HDPE and #4 LDPE.) "Single use" plastic bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate [#1 PET or PETE] are not recommended for repeat use because of the risk of bacterial contamination from infrequent and insufficient washing.
emilyrose's avatar
all plastics leach!
sarahsugs's avatar
Update: I found a replacement for my Nalgene. It is a Sigg brand waterbottle, made of stainless steel (I think). They come in two sizes with all kinds of cool patterns. Water from it tastes lovely and fresh and cold. I'm converted! Found mine at REI. Check it out: http://www.sigg.ch/
Mirudhulla's avatar

Its very much bad for health…
chemicals in it is harmful for health…..

Response moderated (Spam)
beatrixtuffy's avatar

I think people are also curious as to why plastic is bad and its association with health risks is because most plastics contain chemicals. As we knows that these chemicals are both shown to be potent hormone disruptors and are increasingly linked to adverse health effects but in my view all types of plastic not put in same category.

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