How Addiction to Plastic Poisons Our Planet
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Dangerous Levels of BPA Found in More than 95 Percent of People Tested
Perhaps the most well known plastic chemical is BPA (bisphenol-A), widely used in the lining of food cans, dental sealants,paper money, receipts and other products. Unfortunately, BPA is so prevalent that 95 percent of people tested have potentially dangerous levels in their bodies. BPA leaches out of can linings and into the foods they contain, such as soups and sodas. BPA is not the only chemical that does this — science has recently discovered that melamine, once thought stable, leaches chemicals as well, particularly when heated. Consistent low-level melamine exposure has been linked to kidney stones in children and adults.9
Studies show that adults with the highest levels of BPA in their urine are more than twice as likely to develop narrowed arteries and coronary heart disease as those with the lowest levels. A British health survey correlated higher levels of urinary BPA with an increased risk of heart disease. One study found that eating canned goods increases urinary BPA concentrations more than 1,000-fold.
BPA is an endocrine disrupter, which means it interferes with your body’s hormonal system. An animal study found that BPA damages chromosomes and interferes with egg development, which could lead to spontaneous miscarriage, birth defects, and Down syndrome. In other studies, BPA has been linked to obesity, insulin resistance and cancer. According to Texas A & M geneticist Dr. David Busbee, less than one trillionth of a gram of BPA per one milliliter of food is sufficient to change the functioning and development of cells in your body.
BPA studies have captured the public’s attention, and there is growing legislation to limit its use, as a result. The state of California just declared BPA a reproductive health hazard10. The message is clear: BPA is harmful and should be avoided.
BPS May Be Even Worse than BPA
As the public has grown increasingly wary of BPA, a slew of BPA-free plastics have hit the market, from water bottles to plastic toys. However, many companies are simply swapping out BPA for another bisphenol, bisphenol-S (BPS), which is now showing up in human urine at levels similar to those of BPA. Research suggests BPS has hormone-mimicking characteristics similar to BPA, but it may be significantly less biodegradable, and more heat-stable and photo-resistant, which means it may be even more toxic than BPA over time.
Phthalates: The Plastic Gender-Benders
Another group of toxic chemicals coming from plastic are the phthalates. Phthalates function as plasticizers in everything from vinyl flooring to detergents, hoses, raincoats, adhesives, air fresheners, medical supplies, shampoos and even toys. Phthalates belong to “gender-bending” chemicals group that causes males of many species to become more female. Phthalates have been linked with chronic diseases such as allergies, asthma and autism, and can cause inflammation for at-risk infants. Children have been found to absorb phthalates from crawling around on soft, flexible plastic flooring and plastic play mats.
One of the more pervasive phthalates is DEHP, used primarily in the medical industry. Manufacturers add it to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) to make plastic equipment more flexible. In PVC, DEHP extends the shelf life of red blood cells, so you’ll find it in IV tubing, catheters, blood bags, nasogastric tubing and the like. Familiar with that “new shower curtain smell”? That’s the aroma of offgassing DEHP.
Groundbreaking research just published in PLoS One and Reproductive Toxicology11 found that rats exposed to phthalates produced offspring with higher rates of kidney and prostate disease, and their great-grandchildren showed greater obesity and diseases of the reproductive organs. This is the first time environmentally induced inheritance of disease has been demonstrated scientifically. The authors write12:
“This is the first study to show the epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of disease, such as obesity.”
Unfortunately, every single person may have measurable phthalates in their bodies. In 2000, the CDC discovered high levels of phthalates in all 289 adult Americans tested. Dr. Busbee reports that every phthalate tested disrupts gene expression. This disruption is not only harmful to the person exposed, but the effects may be passed on to future generations, as the latest scientific study reveals.