Plastic Pollutants

When you eat or drink things that are stored in plastic, taste it, smell it, wear it, sit on it, and so on, plastic is incorporated into you. In fact, the plastic gets into the food and food gets into the plastic and you. So, you quite literally, you are what you eat, drink, and breathe. We are becoming “plastic people.”

Water bottles are made from various types of plastic, such as polycarbonate (PC), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropy-lene (PP), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), low-density polyethy-lene (LDPE), polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl), and others. Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a monomer used in the synthesis of PC plastics, epoxy resins, and composites, as well as a heat stabilizer in PVC.

The list of products containing BPA is long, as it is deeply imbedded in the products of modern society. BPA-bases PC plastic is used as a coating for children’s teeth to prevent cavities, as a coating in metal cans to prevent the metal from contact with food contents, as the plastic in food containers, refrigerator shelving, baby bottles, water bottles, returnable containers for juice, milk and water, microwave ovenware, and eating utensils.

As the plastic ages, then the BPA leeches. Experiments with rats demonstrate that low level exposure to BPA during fetal growth causes breast cancer in adults as well as insulin resistance. In a small prospective study, researchers in Japan report that BPA levels are higher in women with a history of repeated spontaneous miscarriages.

BPA is only one of a long list of plastic pollutants, a list that is so long that it would require its own book in order to have an exhaustive study. The bottom line is that BPA (and other plastic pollutants) are extremely toxic and are everywhere! What this all means is that most of your life, you will be within arm’s length to BPA or another form of toxic plastic.

Phthalates are plasticizers used to make plastic products more flexible and also to lengthen the life of fragrances. About four million tons of phthalates are produced worldwide each year. Phthalates are recognized as toxic substances under environmental law, but companies are free to use unlimited amounts in cosmetics.

Some common phthalates and the products which contain them:

  • Di-ethyl phthalate (DEP): Toothbrushes, auto parts, tools, toys, food packaging, insecticides, mosquito repellents, aspirin, nail polish, perfumes, hair sprays
  • Di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP) Cellulose plastics, solvents for dyes, solvents for cosmetics, nail polish, food wrap, perfumes, skin emollients, hair spray, insect repellents
  • Benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP): Plasticizers in adhesives, PVC flooring, wood finishes, biodegradable tampon ejectors

That new car smell, which is especially strong after the car has been sitting in the sun for a few hours, is the odor of phthalates precipitating from a hot plastic dashboard. Then, when it cools down in the evening the phthalates condense to form an oily coating on the inside of the windshield. An environmental release of just 10 pounds of DBP must be reported to environmental authorities under the Superfund Law. However, the cosmetics industry puts thousands of tons of DBP into nail polish each year, with no requirements for safety testing or reporting to anyone.

But “why?” you may ask. Many pivotal court decision implementing the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) have basically hamstrung the EPA. You see, the EPA must prove an “unreasonable risk of injury” to human health before it can remove a chemical from the market. However, they cannot prove unreasonable risk of injury without first conducting safety studies, which are expressly prohibited until “substantial” or “significant” exposure is proved to be occurring. So, it’s an endless loop, since the FDA can almost never prove that substantial or significant exposures are occurring because exposure data is extremely difficult to obtain. To put it simply, the EPA cannot regulate a chemical until it makes a finding of risk based on date which the law virtually prohibits it from collecting. This is absurd, isn’t it?

Women who are pregnant, nursing or thinking about getting pregnant should look for and avoid all personal care products with the word phthalate on the label. The major sources of phthalates are plastics wrap, plastic bottles, plastic food storage containers, nail polish, and cosmetics. Phthalates have been shown to have estrogenic qualities, have toxic effects on the testicles, and to cause birth defects. They can also cause cancer, damage the endocrine system, and are particularly dangerous to children.

Have you heard about benzene? Almost 300,000 people per year are exposed to benzene in the workplace. Benzene is an aromatic hydrocarbon and a volatile organic compound (VOC) which is produced by the burning of natural products. It is a component of products derived from coal and petroleum and found in gasoline and other fuels. Most benzene is produced for use as a building block in the manufacture of a number of products, such as medicinal and industrial chemicals, plastics, rubber, resins, synthetic fabrics, and dyes.

Research has shown benzene to be extremely carcinogenic; it is a known carcinogen and one of the primary causes of leukemia in the USA. Generally, benzene exposure comes from tobacco smoke, gasoline and automobile exhaust. Benzene is also used as a solvent in waxes, paints, resins, and inks.

However, there is another source of benzene which is very disturbing: sodas. Two preservatives commonly added to sodas (ascorbic acid and sodium benzoate) react to produce, yes, you guessed it: benzene. The warmer the soda gets, the more benzene will be produced. The FDA and soda manufactures have known about this “dirty little secret” since 1990 but failed to warn the public. So for almost two decades, people have unwittingly been drinking sodas which contain a known human carcinogen. In 2007, there was a class action lawsuit and several soda manufactures (including Coca Cola, PepsiCo, and Sunny Delight Beverages) settled and agreed to reduce the amount of benzene in their drinks. However, numerous drink manufactures are still using ascorbic acid (vitamin c) and benzoate salts in many drinks that are being sold worldwide. The exposed population is huge, probably in the billions.

On a related note, many brands of plastic dinnerware is made of melamine plastic, since it is hard and smooth and keeps its shape well. Did you know that up to 90% of the infant formula sold in the USA may be contaminated with trace amounts of melamine? According to recent tests (the results of which the FDA hid from the public), Nestle, Mead Johnson and Enfamil infant formula products were all contaminated with melamine.

The truth about the melamine only became public after the Associated Press filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, demanding the test results from the FDA. Of course, the FDA claims that low levels of melamine are perfectly safe for babies to consume in unlimited quantity. Sure they are! I suppose BPA is safe, too? What about aspartame, MSG, fluoride, sodium nitrite, and every other poison? If you believe the FDA, all these toxic poisons are safe to consume. Hopefully by now you know, that the FDA (and the medical mafia) is nothing more than a legalized gang of unindicted criminals engaged in the tactics of intimidation, censorship, and oppression that can appropriately be described as health “terrorism.”

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