Which Plastics Are Safe?

The news about plastics has been pretty alarming lately, causing some of us to go dashing for the water bottles to see what kind of plastic they are—and find out if we’ve been unwittingly poisoning our children and ourselves with chemicals leaching into the water from them.

If you’ve been concerned, here is a handy chart that identifies the good, bad, and OK plastics and where they are found. Find out here:

which-plastics-are-safe

1 Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE)
Used to make soft drink, water, sports drink, ketchup, and salad dressing bottles, and peanut butter, pickle, jelly and jam jars.
GOOD: Not known to leach any chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting hormones.

2 High density polyethylene (HDPE)
Milk, water, and juice bottles, yogurt and margarine tubs, cereal box liners, and grocery, trash, and retail bags.
GOOD: Not known to leach any chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting hormones.

3 Polyvinyl chloride (V or PVC)
Most cling-wrapped meats, cheeses, and other foods sold in delicatessens and groceries are wrapped in PVC.
BAD: To soften into its flexible form, manufacturers add “plasticizers” during production. Traces of these chemicals can leach out of PVC when in contact with foods. According to the National Institutes of Health, di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), commonly found in PVC, is a suspected human carcinogen.

4 Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
Some bread and frozen food bags and squeezable bottles.
OK: Not known to leach any chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting hormones, but not as widely recycled as #1 or #2.

5 Polypropylene (PP)
Some ketchup bottles and yogurt and margarine tubs.
OK: Hazardous during production, but not known to leach any chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting hormones. Not as widely recycled as #1 and #2.

6 Polystyrene (PS)
Foam insulation and also for hard applications (e.g. cups, some toys)
BAD: Benzene (material used in production) is a known human carcinogen. Butadiene and styrene (the basic building block of the plastic) are suspected carcinogens. Energy intensive and poor recycling.

7 Other (usually polycarbonate)
Baby bottles, microwave ovenware, eating utensils, plastic coating for metal cans
BAD: Made with biphenyl-A, a chemical invented in the 1930s in search for synthetic estrogens. A hormone disruptor. Simulates the action of estrogen when tested in human breast cancer studies. Can leach into food as product ages.

Adapted from Green Remodeling, by David Johnston and Kim Master (New Society Publishers, 2004). Copyright (c) 2004 by David Johnston and Kim Master. Reprinted by permission of New Society Publishers.

195 comments

Elena P
Elena Poensgenabout a month ago

Thank you

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Elena P
Elena Poensgenabout a month ago

Thank you

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Richard A
Richard Aabout a month ago

Thank you for this very helpful article.

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Elaine A
Elaine Al Meqdadabout a month ago

PLANT BASED WATER BOTTLES ONLY!

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Jennifer F
Jennifer F2 months ago

This is another fantastic article for all of us to read and share!

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Melissa DogLover
Melissa D2 months ago

useful info to know-- thank you

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sandy Gardner
sandy Gardner2 months ago

Thanks...very useful knowledge to possess.

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Vincent T.
Vincent T2 months ago

Good to know. Thank you.

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Janet B.
Janet B3 months ago

Thanks

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Elaine W.
Elaine W3 months ago

Important information.

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