Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Plastic safety has my head spinning

All of this talk about safe versus toxic plastics has my head spinning. It is almost impossible to avoid plastic. It is everywhere. I have become more aware of the "safe" and "unsafe" plastics. I now check the bottom of plastic containers before buying something, but it is still confusing to me. I knew the only way for me to get it straight in my head was to type up a post. So here we are.

Here is a breakdown by number according to

Safer Choices:
#1, #2, #4 (which use polythylene) and # 5 (which is polypropylene)
They use less toxic additives and are non-chlorinated.
#3 (Polyvinyl Chloride or PVC), #6 (polystyrene), and # 7 (includes polycarbonate- containing BISPHENOL A or BPA when a plastic is made of different layers with different plastics it falls into this category too)

Why are #3, #6, and # 7 considered unsafe?

#3 Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)- Over the course of its lifecycle PVC releases the toxic chemicals dioxin, mercury, and phthalates. When produced or burned, dioxin is released. Dioxin can cause cancer and harm the immune and reproductive system. Phthalates are added to PVC to make it soft and flexible. This is often used in childrens toys. These chemicals can leach out of the PVC when chewed on by children. It is suspected to be a carcinogen and reproductive toxicant. PVC also can not be recycled, so it poses environmental concerns as well.

#6 Polystyrene- Otherwise known as Styrofoam. Styrene, the fundamental building block, is classified as a possible human carcinogen. Toxic chemicals leach out of these products into food especially when heated in the microwave. There are many environmental concerns with this product as well. It is able to be recycled, but there is limited availability of these resources.

# 7 Polycarbonate- Many Nalgene bottles and baby bottles are made of polycarbonate containing Bisphenol A(BPA) , which can disrupt the hormonal system. It can mimic human estrogen and is linked to breast cancer and early puberty in women. BPA is also found in the epoxy lining of many canned foods. According to the Environmental Working Group, of all the foods tested chicken soup, ravioli, and infant formula had BPA levels of the highest concern. The danger of BPA has been making the news more and more lately so many companies are offering BPA-free products now.

Check out Z Recommends. It is a great resource and has some very interesting articles to read. They also have a very extensive report regarding BPA in Children's Feeding Products.

Green & Clean Mom also has some great posts on BPA. They contain several resources and links so it is very informative.

Please note I am in no way an expert and compiled this information from sources on the internet. This is the way I understand it. The information provided is a summary for people like me who need it broken down simply. Now that I have a grasp of this information, hopefully I can dive in deeper. I will keep you posted.


Happy Willow said...

This is a fantastic blog!!!
If you want to do a Barefoot Books Giveaway let me know!!!!
I learned so much by reading your information!
Thank you!!!!

adrian2514 said...

Hey! Thanks for all the great info about plastics. It's very useful for those of us with kids! I was browsing through a bunch of green websites and blogs and I came across yours and found it very interesting. There are a bunch of others I like too, like the daily green, ecorazzi and I especially like’s carbon calculator ( I find it really easy to use (it doesn’t make me feel guilty after I take it). Are there any others you would recommend? Can you drop me a link to your favorites (let me know if they are the same as mine).

Jen said...


I like Ideal Bite (, treehugger(, and Environmental Working Group ( I also listen to the podcast More Hip than Hippie ( and read ALOT of other blogs. I could not e-mail you because I did not have your e-mail address.

Hope this helps!

Michael said...

Very informative blog. We are a retail toy store and safety is our first priority, If we can be of any help, please feel free to contact us.

Landbridge Toys


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