Recently, there’s been a rash of articles on the dangers of Bisphenol-A-free plastics such as this one. In addition, I’ve read as some members of Nourished Living Network, such as Melanie of Pickle me Too and Laurie from Common Sense Homesteading, have uncovered more information about other types of plastics and their potential dangers. As it turns out, BPA isn’t the only danger lurking in plastic. I stumbled upon information on other issues in plastic such as phthalates. And BPA has a bunch of cousins, labeled B-Z. In fact, there are a whole host of endocrine disruptors in plastics, they just haven’t had a spotlight shown on them yet. Like BPA, rigerous testing has not been done.
What I found did not reassure me.
BPA and Phalates
So where can BPA or phthalates be found? In places you have heard about AND in places you wouldn’t imagine. Soft toys, shower curtains, raincoats, vinyl flooring, food packaging, hairspray, personal care items and any plastic that is soft can have pthalates. You can find BPA in hard plastic toys. Carbonless paper receipts you get from the gas station and most other stores now. Drink and baby bottles. Anything made of hard plastic is suspect, and most canned foods contain it in the can lining. Food containers and plastic silverware. Dental sealants. Lids for home canning. Plastic eyeglass frames, CDs and DVDs. Blenders and food processors. Car interiors. Canned soda. Alcoholic beverages can have BPA due to the plastic vats they are processed in. Anything made of recycled paper, including pizza boxes.
Even some toilet paper.
What does BPA do? It mimics estrogen in the body. Multiple studies have found it to be a problem, even in tiny amounts. Why? Most people today have too much estrogen compared to their other hormones and the excess estrogen is tied to a whole host of health issues in both men and women, as well as children. Excess estrogen doesn’t just disrupt your reproductive system, it’s connected to a whole host of cancers and other health problems, too.
What do phthalates do? They are also an endocrine disruptor, known to cause problems for men and has also been linked to liver cancer. If it can cause shrinking gonads, I can imagine the effects on women might not be pleasant, either.
The spotlight on BPA has been a big one in natural health circles recently. The issue is that these companies are replacing the BPA with another chemical that is just as untested and possibly just as dangerous. Or maybe even worse. The plain fact is that most chemicals used in our environment haven’t been rigorously tested by independent, third parties who are unbiased.
The Big Shift
So instead of trading the known for the potentially unknown which might be far more dangerous, I feel it’s better to eliminate it all-together. I began moving away from plastic a long time ago, which was the beginnings of my mason jar obsession. I’ve been using glass as much as is practical, however I’ve now come to accept that ‘as much as is practical’ might not be enough when I’m still obviously having hormonal issues. I don’t need the exposure to endocrine disruptors while I’m still trying to get my hormones to balance. At this rate, who knows what they’ll find in plastics tomorrow that’s even worse than BPA or phthalates. And what that exposure is doing to our children.
I have enough estrogen, I don’t need more, thank you. And neither do my kids, whom I would like to see grow up with good health and not experience the hormonal problems I have had. Too much estrogen is linked to higher rates of female cancers and early puberty in girls. No thanks, I’m happy for that to wait until it is time, I don’t want to encourage it to make an early arrival for my daughter. I’m not itching to parent a teen girl with hormonal swings, it will come soon enough. And like most mamas, it will be too soon when it does happen.
In thinking through my closest friends, they all show some signs of estrogen dominance or other hormone disruption (sorry, gals). In going through the women I know, I know more who show signs of hormone disruption than do not. Truly healthy people who aren’t working on solving a health problem are rare. Hormonal imbalances seem to be rampant today.
I’d prefer to see my husband and son not suffer from phthalate-related maladies, as they sound most unpleasant. When I broached this subject with Jeff, the words “shrinking gonads” went a long ways in convincing him to participate in the change.
So I’ve begun a clean-out of my kitchen and my life. I’m finally dumping the last remnants of plastic everywhere. Plainly put, I don’t want the exposure to me or my children.
So today, the last (plastic) straw was thrown out of my house. Join me over the next two weeks as we discuss different areas where we’re dumping plastic from our home and the alternatives I’m trying, what is working and what is not.
Do you try to avoid plastics? What are your concerns?
Marcella F says
I am not currently avoiding plastic even though I am concerned about the hormone disruptors. I really don’t know where to begin as far as food storage. I know one can freeze meals in pyrex containers, but I’ve been finding that the tops don’t stay on after a few months of using them. Then I have a mess to clean up.
I am really looking forward to the Kitchen’s resurrected class announcement. I think this will help me a lot in my real food journey. 🙂
I used to have the same problem when I first switched to glass ~ Try putting a layer of aluminum foil over the food before you put the lid on (do not do this if the food is high in acid like sauerkraut or tomato based). Hope it works for you.
I stopped using plastic containers as food storage back in the 90’s.. simply because I can not stand the off taste the food stored in them picks up and I have severe allergies & chemical sensitivities. Back then it was very difficult and expensive to find glass storage containers and French canning jars, thank goodness that is no longer an issue. The jars are bulkier & much heavier to store on the shelves in my pantry but at least I know our food isn’t being contaminated by chemicals. I only use glass “glasses” too as I can taste the chemicals in plastic & paper cups.
Looking forward to other options that you suggest for food storage. I know plastic is bad, I just haven’t made the full committment yet over to glass. So … this will encourage me and get me started!! 🙂