This week my son did a video for school on the millions of tons of plastic floating in the Pacific Gyre and the toxic effects of even a small micro-sized chip of that plastic.
We looked at horrifying images online of mountains of plastic bags and bottles, and sea turtles mistaking plastic bags for jellyfish and eating them; another turtle had a six-ring plastic can holder stuck around its shell and had distorted it’s shell into a figure eight. I felt guilty for exposing my 12-year-old son to the awful reality that we have created here on earth with our thoughtless actions. I vowed to myself to stop using plastic bags for perhaps the one-hundredth time.
But do you know about the health effects of plastics? Bisphenyl A (BPA) has got a lot of press in the past decade for its health effects. It is a chemical that is used to harden plastic and it binds to the estrogen receptors in our bodies. This causes a hormone-like effect. It was used in baby bottles, food containers, baby food containers and water bottles. 90% of us have elevated BPA in our bodies.
The health effects include an increase in hormone-related cancers like breast cancer and prostate, which affect the brain and heart. It is linked to behavior issues like attention deficit disorder. It’s effects are most serious in children because of their decreased ability to detoxify it from their bodies.
So, many companies stopped using plastics that contain BPA. Problem solved – right?
Here’s the bad news. It turns out that BPA free plastic is even WORSE than BPA plastic. The studies that were done on the hormonal effects of the BPA free plastic were done on rats that were bred to have low levels of estrogen receptors. When they were tested on normal rats – guess what – they had even stronger estrogen effects than the BPA plastics.
And here’s the saddest thing of all. Plastic is eternal. It doesn’t go away. It breaks down into smaller and smaller particles that are able to go deeper into the environment, deeper into cells, and the effects are passed on – into our children and their children.
So – get out your glass containers and your paper bags. Let’s stop this now. I’m switching to cloth vegetable bags – and trying my best to eliminate the plastic in my life (I say, as I type this on my plastic keyboard)
Here’s a link to the Mother Jones article about the BPA free plastic: http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/tritan-certichem-eastman-bpa-free-plastic-safe
And Here’s a link to my son’s video about plastic bags in the environment: Trash it!
By Jennifer Means, ND, LAc