Serving Plastics For Dinner?

What do breast milk, food cans, microwave popcorn, and fast-food French fry boxes have in common with meat, fish and dairy products?  They’re all avenues of human ingestion of potentially harmful chemicals associated with everyday plastics. Although the jury is still out on what levels of exposure are unsafe, it is indisputable that we are all literally consuming chemicals from plastics daily.

Biomonitoring projects – like the 2005 BodyBurden study of cord blood in neonates and the Mind, Disruptedinvestigation of blood and urine in adults representing the learning & developmental disabilities community just published in February 2010 – consistently find neurotoxic and endocrine-disrupting chemicals used in common plastics among the substances routinely tainting human tissues.  Although diet is not the only route of exposure, it is considered a major one.

Given that developing fetuses and young children are most vulnerable to environmental toxins, understanding how exposure occurs through ordinary diets, and how to avoid it, has become a growing societal concern.

Three constituents of common plastics that find their way into food or drinks are described below, all linked to ill health effects in humans and lab animals.  In the Mind, Disrupted study, the subjects universally tested positive for all three: bisphenol-A, brominated flame retardants, and perfluorinated compounds.  The variety of avenues into the human diet is surprising.


Originally synthesized a century ago as a synthetic estrogen, bisphenol-A (BPA) was utilized instead to make baby bottles, reusable water bottles, and food storage containers upon discovery that polymerization produced clear, shatter-proof plastics dubbed polycarbonates.  It’s also a key ingredient of the epoxy resin that lines metal food cans and jar lids, including infant formula.

Over 90% of Americans own BPA into their urine, according to the 2003–2004 National Health also Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) of the U.S. state.  Modern kids usually have the highest levels because people need a protein that cuts hair BPA.  Leaching from BPA of bottles into milk and drinks is considered to be one main route of exposure.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set a now outdated safe exposure standard of <50ug/kg/day based on research from the 1980s: Recent measurements show daily intake exceeds this in many people.  Hundreds of recent studies connect BPA to a diversity of problems like early puberty, miscarriage, breast and prostate cancer, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cardiac arrhythmias and male erectile dysfunction.  Harmful effects in lab animals are seen at exposure levels far below what the EPA has considered safe.

Responding to the newer findings, the National Toxicology Program Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction released a monograph in Sept 2008 admitting “some concern” that current levels of exposure in fetuses, infants and children may result in developmental changes in the brain, prostate and behavior.  In January 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration posted its “support” for voluntary moves by industry to both stop selling BPA-containing baby bottles and feeding cups and develop alternatives to BPA-lined infant formula cans; however, it stopped short of recommending bans on BPA or that parents change use of infant formula or foods.

Only Connecticut, Minnesota and Wisconsin have passed laws banning BPA in children’s foodware and drinkware.