Health problems due to plastic cannot be avoided as long as the plastic is avoided. Many people do not understand how these plastics are affecting our body and life.
Plastics and Health
Plastics are constantly in touch with our food. Plastics play a part in every phase of food production and preparation. Food gets processed on plastic equipment, packaged and shipped in plastic-lined boxes and cans. At home, we store and reheat the leftovers in plastic containers. Length, long lasting, low cost, and convenience are the attractive features of plastic which make it differ from other traditional forms of kitchen utensils such as of wood, metal, glass, clay. However many do not understand how these things are associated with life and how it affects our body. Plastics do not produce toxins in its pure form. Yet its structure is composed of tens of thousands of small molecules.
Because of the high molecular deterioration, plastics lack reaction capacity and the disruption of the body. Moisture, light, chemicals and atmospheric temperatures in food will not affect plastic in any way. However, in the process of transfusing chemicals to make plastic product flexible, firm, transparent and colorful, various types of chemicals are added into them. Chemicals that are added to make it more flexible, sustainable, and colorful can cause harmful interactions in the body. It will harmfully affect the functions of thyroid hormone, feminine hormone estrogen, and male hormonal aphrodisiacs. These resemble the structure of the hormones in the body and so it imitates the hormones and disturbs their functioning. Phthalates used as a plasticizer and Bisphenol-A in Polycarbonate materials are the main causes of hormone imbalance.
Bisphenol A and Phthalates
Plasticizers like Bisphenol A and Phthalates are used to give the product, flexibility, and softness. Phthalates are a family of chemical compounds primarily used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or vinyl flexible and pliant. Phthalates are used in hundreds of products in our homes, hospitals, cars, and businesses plastic vessels, it reaches into the human body. It imitates hormones and causes an imbalance among them. These imbalances can cause the human body some allergies, asthma, insulin resistance, cancer, infertility, obesity, birth defects, autism, and many other health issues. Bisphenol A is a chemical that is used to make epoxy and polycarbonate plastics, and it is presented in Polycarbonate water bottles, white pipes, soft drink tins, and epoxy coatings in the interior of the soft drink tins. It has been found that ninety-nine percent of the US people have high levels of Bisphenol A in their urine. This can adversely affect the function of the thyroid hormone and cause hypothyroidism. Bisphenol A, A mammogram that mimics the role of estrogen will create a hormone proportional problem and it may result in male infertility. These materials which are added at the time of preparation are eventually ingested and eaten in the diet. High heat and fatigue food add up to this level. The warming and cooling of the food make the situation worse. The same happens when you squeeze or use force to clean plastic carriers.
When plastic is burned
Many burn them as an easy way to avoid plastic wastes. The most dangerous emissions can be caused by burning plastics containing organoch – lor-based substances like PVC. When such plastics are burned, harmful quantities of dioxins, a group of highly toxic chemicals are emitted. Dioxins are the most toxic to human organisms. This affects the health of many, including infants. Long-term exposure to dioxin can also cause cancer. Another harmful effect of burning waste is pollution, as it can damage the ozone layer.
Burning plastic causes numerous health dangers:
Can cause cancer, birth defects, genetic changes, chronic bronchitis, ulcers, skin diseases, deafness, vision failure, indigestion, and liver dysfunction
Endocrine disruption, linked to asthma, developmental and reproductive effects. Medical waste with PVC and phthalates is regularly incinerated causing public health effects from the release of dioxins and mercury, including cancer, birth defects, hormonal changes, declining sperm count’s infertility, endometriosis, and immune system impairment.
Can irritate eyes, nose, and throat and can cause dizziness and unconsciousness. Migrates into food and stores in body fat. Elevated rates of lymphatic and hematopoietic cancers for workers.
What is the solution?
- Wherever possible, use glass and metal containers instead of plastic.
- Wean yourself off disposable plastics
- Reduce. Reduce your own plastic waste.
- Reuse. Bring your own reusable shopping and produce bags to markets, and avoid using single-use plastic bags.