With more than 1,600,000 new of cancer cases predicted for this year, it’s not strange that people are trying hard to discover the causes that increase the risk of the disease. Plastics are often suggested as carcinogens, even though the evidence is inconclusive. But it is wise to avoid some plastic chemicals so you can minimize the health risk.
At the bottom of every bottle there is triangle with a number, ranging from one to seven. The number as well as the used symbol can tell you which type of plastic it as well as how safe it is for use.
1. Known as PETE or PET, the bottles that have the number 1 on the bottom means that they are for one use only. If you use them more than once you are exposed to the substance EPA. This plastic may emit antimony – a heavy metal that interferes with hormones. There is a possibility that this plastic is carcinogenic.
2. If you find the number 2 and a triangle on the bottle, this plastic is called HDP or HDPE and is considered as the good plastic. This type of plastic does not emit as much chemical as the other types.
3. Labeled as PVC or V, the number 3 means that this bottle has 2 toxic chemicals that can interfere with the hormones. This is the most commonly used plastic and contains phthalates which are considered carcinogenic.
4. LDPE plastics are labeled with number 4, which means that they don’t emit chemicals when utilized as water bottles.
5. PP plastic is also the safe type of plastic. It is easily distinguishable since it is white or transparent. PP plastics are usually used in yogurt cups and bottles.
6. Although this plastic releases STIREN, a carcinogenic chemical, it is used in coffee cups and fast food packing.
7. This plastic without labels falls under the PC category. Avoid using unlabeled plastics since they may emit BPA – a very harmful chemical. Sadly, these plastics are used in food containers, infant bottles and sports drinks.
Plastics Considered As Carcinogens
Many plastics contain compounds that are thought to increase the risk of cancer. Evidence is inconclusive, since studying the impact of them in people has ethical barriers.
The three most mentioned compounds as carcinogens are:
• Bisphenol A (BPA)
Dioxins, are less likely to have a drect impact on your everyday life since they are emitted during incineration of plastic waste, especially PVC. They are not present in food storage containers.
Dioxin exposure comes primarily through food. Animals from contaminated areas store this compound in their fat, and the chemical is transmitted through their consumption. Avoiding meat and fish consumption with increased fat content will reduce your exposure to dioxins.
BPA and Phthalates are present in the plastics we use every day. In 2011, they were listed as reasonably anticipated carcinogen based on the evidence of carcinogenicity conducted on experimental animals.
About 95% of DEHP is utilizes as plasticizer in PVC. These products may contain 1% to 40% DEHP. Plasticized PVC is used for shower curtains, tablecloths, imitation leather, floor tiles, garden hoses,swimming-pool liners, rainwear, dolls, shoes, toys, , baby pants, as well as food packaging.
BPA is a synthetic estrogen, that can disrupt the hormones. Since many types of cancer are associated with hormone disruption it is wise to avoid BPA exposure.
You should always use plastics in the proper way. If you heat the food in a plastic container that contains phthalates or BPA there is a risk that your food will be contaminated. The contact of plastics with detergents may trigger the emission of these chemicals.
Which Plastics To Avoid?
Avoid or be cautious when you use PVC, Polystyrene plastics and PETE. Now you can easily identify them as labeled with the numbers 6, 3 and 1.
These plastics are usually used for:
• PETE (polyethyleneterephthalate): flexible oil and drink bottles
• PVC: plastic trays for fruit and sweets and many other uses.
• PS (polystyrene): Hard packaging, toys, CD cases, cups used in vending machines
• You should also be very careful when using products from category 7. This is a combination of plastics that do not belong in the other categorizations. That’s why it is hard to make generalizations about the effects of these products since the structure may vary.
You can make a significant change for your health if you check the type of plastic you use. Even though we can’t hide from all those plastics around us, being cautious about their usage can really make a difference.