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.

185 comments

Eep S.
Eep S.29 days ago

"7 Other (usually polycarbonate)
...
BAD: Made with biphenyl-A, a chemical invented in the 1930s in search for synthetic estrogens."

You forgot an "s" in "bisphenyl-A"

Anna L.
Anna L.about a month ago

Before BPA was researched it was deemed safe, as were phythalates. There is no plastic that is provent o be 100% safe, and we will begin to see more chemicals identified over the next few years that will make us wish we had avoided plastic use sooner. I personally use canned water as it is purified and can be stored long time for emergency use.

Anna L.
Anna L.about a month ago

Before BPA was researched it was deemed safe, as were phythalates. There is no plastic that is provent o be 100% safe, and we will begin to see more chemicals identified over the next few years that will make us wish we had avoided plastic use sooner. I personally use canned water as it is purified and can be stored long time for emergency use.

Gabby R.
Gabby R.4 months ago

what about Polyphenylene Ether (PPE)?

Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen4 months ago

Thank you

Frank G.
Frank G.5 months ago

thanks for sharing this

Sakthi K.
Sakthi K.5 months ago

In day to day real life how we can find the plastics good or bad, please give your experience

Sakthi K.
Sakthi K.5 months ago

How to we identify the plastic's in day to day real life ,please give your experience

James P.
James P.5 months ago

Great article with some pretty extensive info. Plastic containers also has a lot of info for any interested readers.

Kate M.
.11 months ago

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