Rather than discussing a type of plastic today, I’m discussing how plastics behave—and how we should best treat them.
Sometimes we consider plastics indestructible, and they are in a way (they never really leave the environment, but exist in one form or another forever). But on the other hand, they’re also very sensitive to their environments!
New research is showing that most plastics get “stressed” and leach chemicals with estrogenic activity when they are subjected to:
- UV radiation
- physical damage
For this reason, it’s best to treat the plastics in our lives with care. This means:
- do not boil, microwave, or otherwise heat plastics
- refrain from putting plastic in the dishwasher
- do not leave plastic water bottles in hot cars, or in other areas subjected to UV radiation
We don’t know the exact sort of health or environmental effects may be caused by heating everyday plastics, but it’s enough for the American Academy of Paediatrics to discourage caregivers from heating children’s plastic dishes and bottles, or placing them in the dishwasher.
When it comes to human research, it’s so difficult to conduct experiments that would be considered ethical, but in real life situations, almost everyone is exposed to plastics!
In my own home, I wash plastics by hand (including plastic bags that I use in the freezer), but I grew up not thinking twice about microwaving plastic that claimed to be microwave safe! What about you?
[AAP. 2018. American Academy of Pediatrics Says Some Common Food Additives May Pose Health Risks to Children. https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/AAP-Says-Some-Common-Food-Additives-May-Pose-Health-Risks-to-Children.aspx]
[Environmental Defence. environmentaldefence.ca/2019/05/01/plastics-harming-health-three-simple-things/]
[Yang, C. Z., Yaniger, S. I., Jordan, V. C., Klein, D. J., & Bittner, G. D. (2011). Most plastic products release estrogenic chemicals: a potential health problem that can be solved. Environmental health perspectives, 119(7), 989–996. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3222987/]