Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Plastics Beware!

In a recent interview on The People's Pharmacy (http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/build/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&limit=20&search=low+dog) Dr. Tieraona Low Dog was asked what of all the environmental health concerns she would rank first.  Her response was plastics.  Most specifically, BPA plastics.  You will see these plastics marked as #7 on the bottom of the container.  It may also be in those marked at #3.  Unfortunately, BPA is also used in canned products as a liner inside the metal.  It is common for re-usable water bottles and lots of infant and child toys and bottles.  BPA has been banned for use in children's toys and bottles in Canada and other countries-including China.  Canada has banned it altogether.

What's the concern?  BPA is an endocrine disruptor.  Your endocrine system is in charge of hormones.  BPA can mimic the hormones.  It is the primary suspect in the rise in early puberty levels.  Also, it is thought to be the cause of neurological impairment in infants and perhaps children and adults.  Levels once thought to be safe are no longer believed to be so.  When they test citizens BPA is found in over 90% and the levels are higher than safe levels.  Most studies (except those done by the chemical companies) find that BPA causes harm.  It is especially harmful to fetuses and infants and therefore levels in women are a concern.  In addition, BPA is being linked to obesity, neurological issues, hyperactivity and ADHD in children and adults, thyroid dysfunction, cancer, and reproductive dysfunction. This isn't just a right here right now concern.  What science is beginning to suspect is that we are looking at long term genetic effects - changes that go beyond our life times. 

It may seem overwhelming to decrease your use of plastics, but take it in baby steps one thing at a time.  One thing to do is to go through your containers and throw out all the plastics with #7 and #3 on the bottom.  Then throw away all the plastics with scratches, melted places, chips and dents.  In Madison, WI we started recycling them, so hopefully where you are, recycling is possible as well.  Otherwise, I find they make great art project equipment - pallets for paint, water containers, etc.  Begin to purchase and switch over to using glassware - jars and bowls with lids.

Stop microwaving in plastic - get to the point where you microwave NOTHING in plastic or get rid of the microwave altogether.  Stop buying bottled water.  The heating and cooling that constantly happens to the water as it is transported causes a constant leaking of plastics into the water you wind up drinking.  Filter your water with a water system and buy a metal water bottle to refill.  Begin to find ways to reduce the amount of plastics you buy, so they stop leaking into our water systems - make your own yogurt, cook your own dinners and lunches - I know this sounds like a lot of work to some, but remember one step at a time and it can all be possible!  Go to http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hphr/files/bpa_and_phthalates_by_the_numbers.pdf and learn more!

How will you decrease you reliance on plastic this week?

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