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3 Harmful Plastics to Remove From Your Life

3 Harmful Plastics to Remove From Your Life

Plastic can seem pervasive at times. From food packaging and storage to flooring and household goods, plastic is everywhere. There are a number of ways that we try to eliminate plastic from our lives—taking reusable shopping bags to market, avoiding processed pre-packaged foods, eschewing the use of water bottles—but without drastic measures it can be nearly impossible to rid this non-biodegradable substance from our lives for good. Not all plastic is created equally, so if you’re picking and choosing plastics to rid from your life, start with these.

#3 PVC (polyvinyl chloride): This plastic is used to make children’s toys, shower curtains, vinyl flooring and some wallpapers. To make PVC soft and pliable, phthalates are added during the manufacturing process. Phthalates can leach of plastic products and into the human body, where they’ve been linked to a number of health problems: hormone disruption, reproductive disorders, even liver cancer. (Read more about the health concerns of phthalates.)

To avoid #3 plastics, don’t buy PVC shower curtains; opt for natural fabrics like organic cotton, linen or hemp. Don’t give young children plastic teething rings, and don’t wrap food in plastic wrap.

#6 PS (polystyrene): You’re probably most familiar with this plastic from Styrofoam. Polystyrene is made of petroleum byproducts and can be found in foam food containers, meat trays, plastic cutlery and more. Recycling polystyrene can be difficult, and because it’s so light, polystyrene is easily picked up by the wind and tossed into the ocean where it contributes to marine pollution. Polystyrene has been known to leach styrene, a possible neurotoxin and carcinogen that has been linked to hormone disruption, infertility and cancer.

To avoid #6 plastics, don’t store food in foam containers, especially fatty foods such as meat and cheese, which are more likely to absorb chemicals; try taking your own glass to-go containers when you eat out.

#7 PC (polycarbonate): This plastic encompasses all sorts of “other” plastics that don’t fit into the previous six categories. However, the most common type of #7 plastic is polycarbonate with added bisphenol A (BPA), which is used to make reusable food containers, baby bottles and reusable water bottles. When heated and washed with a strong detergent, polycarbonate plastic can break down and leach BPA. Among other health problems, BPA has been linked to hormone and reproductive system damage, early puberty, obesity and even cancer. (Learn more about the risks of BPA.)

To avoid #7 plastic, opt for glass food storage containers instead of plastic ones. If you already have plastic food storage containers, never store fatty foods in them and wash them by hand instead of putting them in the dishwasher. (Read more about food safety issues concerning plastic food storage containers.)

To learn more about the health risks of these and other plastics—and for more ways to eliminate plastic from your life—check out the article “De-Plasticize Your Life” from Natural Home & Garden.

Image: pressmaster / Fotolia

Read more: Eco-friendly tips, General Health, Green, Health, Health & Safety, Home, , , , , , ,

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Susan Melgren

Susan Melgren is the web editor of Natural Home & Garden magazine. She enjoys writing about natural health, nontoxic homes and tips for green living.


+ add your own
10:49AM PST on Feb 20, 2015


12:04PM PST on Feb 16, 2015

Thanks for the inportant info.

10:44AM PST on Jan 30, 2015


10:43AM PST on Jan 30, 2015


3:56AM PST on Jan 5, 2015

No more chemicals

2:17AM PST on Dec 24, 2014


9:57PM PST on Dec 20, 2014

@ Micha S. @ 2:34am PDT on Jun 24, 2014
Yet another lame attempt at scaring gullible readers, baseless and tasteless.

Sadly Micha, your the gullible one, sadder yet is that if your avatar is a real picture of you and your child or grandchild. Toxic Body Burden is a real issue. MCS, Environmental Illness, CF, Chronic Fatigue are all symptoms where cellular health has been impaired by toxins.

As in Chronic Fatigue, every cell has mitochondria, basically an Energy Furnace, if it gets poisoned or damaged, low energy production or even death can result.

You must be either involved in Whealth Care, or a denier of Sickness insurance, or just plain self destructive to your own body. You would be a prize employee in hazardous environments.

9:43PM PST on Dec 20, 2014

Ethylene oxide a Neurotoxin is used as a Plastic Softener eg; in oxygen tubing, solution bags for Dialysis, long term users can suffer Neurotoxic injury.

I also found it in a household cleaner.

5:07AM PST on Dec 20, 2014

MICHA S. There have been many studies on #3, #6, and especially #7 with BPA, although many remain constroversial as to what levels are considered harmful.
As for BPA, it has been removed from many products, mostly linings of can goods, IV bags, so I believe that despite your skepticism, various manufacturers consider it risky. The EU and Canada have banned its use from baby bottles, and are doing more studies due to their concern for its safety.

Our FDA thinks everything is safe, and by reading some of your comments in the past, I assume you agree with them. Well, I don't, and I believe it is better to avoid these, when possible and alternatives are available. Although I would, probably, not take as extreme measures as the author of this article, I prefer to, at least, try to keep endocrine disruptors out of my body. Even if consumed at so-called safe levels (whatever that means--no one agrees), they accumulate in your fat, and you will not have any idea how much you have in your system--along with all the other "safe" chemicals. You can tempt fate, if you so choose.

Have no fear--despite bans throughout the world, plastics, even BPA, are not going to disappear. It is a multi-billion dollar industry, and no one is going to part with those profits.

9:40AM PST on Dec 15, 2014


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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