These days we live in a plastic world, everywhere we turn almost everything is made of plastic. Our food is packaged in plastic, we buy take away foods in plastic, we drink water from plastic bottles, we drink our hot coffees from plastic or polystyrene cups and we heat our babies milk in plastic bottles, the examples are endless.
The first time that scientist’s became aware of plastics affecting our bodies (in particular hormone disruption) was back in 1987. Ana Soto and Carlos Sonnenschein from Tufts University in Boston discovered that the plastic from the test tubes they were using for breast cancer cells had actually created rapid growth with these cells. These scientists thought that it was a mistake so they repeated their work again and discovered the same thing had occurred again, from then they understood that there was a chemical leaching from the plastic test tubes.
The chemicals contained in plastics are known as xeno-oestrogens, xeno-oestrogens are defined as any of the by-products of industrial or chemical processing that have oestrogen-like effects. In other words they are environmental oestrogens.
Xeno-oestrogens have been found to be detrimental to our health and are shown to adversely affect out reproductive system (evidence suggests they could lead to higher risks of miscarriage, early puberty, higher rates of breast and testicular cancer). Other adverse health effects dur to xeno-oestrogen exposure include obesity, heart disease, diabetes, bone metabolism, asthma and allergies.
Xeno-oestrogen exposure in utero (on the baby during pregnancy) can impact the development of the reproductive tract in males and females, the exposure has been associated with an increased risk undescended testes in males.
Xeno-oestrogens are not just found in plastics but are also found in cosmetics, perfumes, cleaning products, flame retardants (in our clothes), chemicals plus many more.
What are some tips to help reduce your plastic exposure?
- Avoid storing and heating foods or drinks in plastic containers and bottles
- Use glass (like pyrex containers, just ensure when filling the plastic lid doesn’t touch the food), ceramic (avoid highly glazed ceramics as they may contain lead), stainless steel and corningware
- Use stainless steel or glass bottles for drinking water and use glass baby bottles for feeding
- Reduce the use of canned foods as the majority (unless stated) are lined with BPA
- Reduced processed and packaged food consumption
- Buy fresh fruits and vegetables that aren’t wrapped in plastic
- Don’t be fooled by BPA free containers as the majority will use BPS or BPF which can be just as toxic as BPA
- Start to look at the plastic resin identification codes (look at the bottom of the containers) as the numbers can give us some more information
AVOID the following numbers in this symbol as they are hormone disruptors:
- 01 PET, 03 PVC, 06 PS, 07 O
The following numbers are non hormone disruptors:
- 02 PE-HD, 04 PE-LD, 05 PP
For more information on reducing your plastic and xeno-oestrogen exposure please visit the building biology website.
- Agas D, Sabbieti MG, Marchetti L. 2013 “Endocrine disruptors and bone metabolism” Arch Toxicol Apr;87(4):735-51
- Bijlsma, N. 2015 “Endocrine disrupting chemicals –BPA and beyond” Healthmasters Live notes, March
- Bonds RS, Midoro-Horiuti T. 2013 “Estrogen effects in allergy and asthma” Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol Feb;13(1):92-9
- Xenoestrogens in the Medical Dictionary
- Teixeira D1, Pestana D, Santos C, Correia-Sá L, Marques C, Norberto S, Meireles M, Faria A, Silva R, Faria G, Sá C, Freitas P, Taveira-Gomes A, Domingues V,Delerue-Matos C, Calhau C, Monteiro R. 2015 “Inflammatory and cardiometabolic risk on obesity: role of environmental xenoestrogens” J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2015 May;100(5):1792-801