Monday, November 22, 2010

November Conservation Tip

We all have heard about BPA (Bisphenol A) in plastic water bottles by now and hopefully most of them are not containing BPA anymore. In connection with BPA, phthalates popped up in several publications, too. At first I was kind of ignoring these unpronounceable chemicals, there are so many scary things nowadays, one can't keep up. But as I heard that Canada declared BPA as a hazardous/toxic substance and that phthalates are banned in cosmetics in Europe since 2003! I gave it a second thought.

What exactly are BPA and phatalates?

BPA or Bisphenol A is a plastic component, which is clear and shatter proof. Although it is known to interfere with the human hormone system, especially with estrogen, since the 1930s, billions of pounds of BPA are produced yearly. Among other things BPA can be found in baby bottles, water containers, plastic food storage containers and the lining of cans.
Platics with a 3,6 or 7 in the little recycling triangle on the bottom are possibly containing BPA.

Phthalates are found in soft plastic, like cling wrap, and lots of cosmetic articles. Phthalates help plastic to stay flexible and in cosmetics it helps the fragrance to linger longer around and stay better on skin and nails (for example in nail polish). Phthalates don't have to be labeled, but if you find the word "fragrance" or "perfume" in the ingredients list, it is a pretty good indication that the product contains phthalates.

BPA and phthalates are known to interfere with the hormone system and therefore have been linked to quite a few health problems, including heart problems and damage to the reproductive system (especially in males).
Explore the following links as they describe more accurate the risks and problems involved with BPA and phthalates. Please don't ignore it as I did, especially not if you are pregnant or raising boys!

Yale about BPA


Warming up food in plastic containers

How safe is Tupperware

National Geographic Green Guide

Interesting short video:
The Story about Cosmetics

Some safety tips:
Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit

Check your favorite shampoo, lotion etc. here:
Skin Deep, cosmetic safety database

For more in depth reading I recommend:
Slow Death by Rubber Duck by Rick Smith & Bruce Lourie

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