We want to order bracelets for our convention. The bracelets are made of silicone. I investigated the silicone. From Wikipedia, it seems like a safer product than plastics. Do you have any opinion on this?
– Maryellen, KA
Thank you for your question regarding the bracelets because it allows me to answer the broader question of silicone safety in general and particularly that of silicone bakeware. Is silicone safe for your wardrobe or your kitchen?
Given that silicone is such a high-volume chemical, it is disturbing to me that there is so little scientific research available about its safety.
The chemical hazard database at Scorecard repeatedly reports that there isn’t enough research to determine the hazards.
We know from an FDA study that women who had silicone breast implants that leaked had a statistically higher incidence of fibromyalgia and when the implants were removed, 97 percent had an improvement in their pain. Breastplantinfo.org notes that an FDA analysis of industry data found a significant increase in neurological symptoms, such as poor concentration, for women who had silicone implants for two years. They also cite research that reports that silicone stimulates an immune response.
What does this have to do with silicone bakeware and bracelets? The oil that makes silicone so malleable is the same oil that leaks from silicone breast implants and emerges, bit by bit, from silicone bakeware and bracelets, according to an engineer who works with it and feels the jury is out about the safety of silicone. He notes that the oil is so strong it takes powerful detergents to remove it. Until I can find otherwise, I am assuming he knows what he is talking about, and I am paying attention.
My conclusion is that the concern about silicone isn’t that it will offgas when it is heated (most bakeware can withstand 500 degrees F before it breaks down), but that very small amounts of migrating silicone oil could get on food, hands and other skin. For this reason, I wouldn’t use it in my kitchen or against my skin until more was learned about the oil. I, for one, need all the cognitive skills I can garner!
This oil has me thinking: Is this oil a greasing substitute and why silicone bakeware is famously advertised as non-stick? And worse, is a bit of the bright, unnatural color, migrating with it, even if in tiny amounts? That can’t be good.
On the other hand, silicone is touted as a great alternative to plastic, which most often contains phthalates, known endocrine disruptors and suspects in breast and prostate cancer. If I had to choose between the two, I’d choose silicone.
What to do for your bracelets? How about the old-fashioned friendship bracelet of braided cotton yarns and ribbons?