People are getting serious about finding the culprits that increase the risk cancer. Plastics
have been suggested as one of the everyday carcinogens. Evidence is often scarce or inconclusive, however, there are some
plastic chemicals it is wise to reduce exposure to in order to minimize health risk. Checking which type of plastic you are
using takes a few moments, and could have considerable impacts on your health.
At the bottom of the bottle, you will find a triangle with a number, which can be anywhere from one to seven. With
the symbol you see, you can learn which type of plastic you have in your hand and just how safe or unsafe – it might
Number 1: Known as PET or PETE, the bottle with this number
means it should only be used once because reusing them can expose people to a chemical substance called EPA. The plastic could
possibly emit antimony, a heavy metal that can interfere with the hormones in the body. It is possible the plastic is carcinogenic.
Number 2: A triangle with the number “2” in the bottle
is known as HDPE or HDP, which is considered the good plastic. It doesn’t have as much emission as the chemicals in
other bottles when in contact with water.
Number 3: Labeled as
V or PVC, the number 3 in the bottle means that it has two toxic chemicals that can influence hormones in the body. PVC is
the most used type of plastic around and contains phthalates, including DEHP.
Number 4: LDPE plastics have the number 4, which means they don’t emit chemicals when used in water bottles.
However, most of them are actually present in plastic bags.
5: PP or number 5 plastics are also good types of plastics. They are recognizable because of their white color. Sometimes,
they are transparent. PP plastics are common in cups of yogurt and syrup bottles.
Number 6: Although this emits STIREN, which is carcinogenic, this plastic is used in fast food packaging as well
as in coffee cups.
Number 7: Plastics with no labels are in this
category. They are known as PC. Don’t trust plastics without labels because they often emit BPA, a very harmful chemical.
PC plastics are common in containers for food, sports drink bottles, and worse, infant bottles.
Plastics Implicated As Carcinogens
compounds found in many plastics that are thought to contribute towards risk of cancer. Evidence tends to be limited, as studying
the effects of these in humans has some obvious ethical barriers.
three most supported compounds are:
• Bisphenol A
Dioxins: Dioxins are released during the incineration of plastic waste, particularly
PVCs. They are not present in containers designed for food storage. Exposure to dioxins is the primarily through food. Animals
in polluted areas store the dioxin in their fat reserves, and the chemical accumulates through the food chain. Limiting consumption
of fish or meat with a high fat content reduces exposure.
and BPA are more likely to be present due to the plastics that you are using. Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) is listed
in the US Report on Carcinogens as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on sufficient evidence of
carcinogenicity from studies in experimental animals”. This stuff is everywhere and regarded as a ubiquitous environmental
pollutant. From the 2011 Report on Carcinogens:
95% of DEHP produced is used as a plasticizer in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resins for fabricating flexible vinyl products (ATSDR
2002). Products typically contain from 1% to 40% DEHP; however, Tickner et al. (2001) reported that DEHP levels in PVC medical
tubing may be as high as 80%. Plasticized PVC has been used in many consumer items and building products, such as tablecloths,
shower curtains, furniture and automobile upholstery, imitation leather, garden hoses, floor tiles, swimming-pool liners,
sheathing for wire and cable, rainwear, shoes, toys, dolls, baby pants, food packaging materials, tubing used in commercial
milking equipment, and weather stripping.
BPA is a weak synthetic
estrogen, which can act as a hormone disruptor. As various cancers are related to hormonal controls, including some forms
of breast cancer, many people feel that it is wise to limit exposure to BPA.
Ensure the correct use of plastic items. Heating food in a plastic container containing BPA or phthalates is likely
to result in food becoming contaminated with these chemicals. Allowing plastics to come into contact with detergents can result
in these chemicals being released.
Which Plastics To Avoid?
Avoid or exercise caution when using PETE, PVC, or Polystyrene plastics.
The standard labels found on plastic products easily identify them: a triangle containing a number. These three types of plastic
are numbers 1, 3, and 6.
Common uses of these include:
• #1 – PETE (polyethyleneterephthalate): flexible drink or oil containers
• #3 – PVC (polyvinyl chloride): plastic trays for sweets or fruit, innumerable other consumer
• #6 – PS (polystyrene): Toys, hard packing, CD cases, vending machine cups
• #7 – Miscellaneous.
Exercise caution when using products that fall into category 7. This is a kind of ‘misc.’ box for plastics that
don’t fall into other classifications. It is difficult to make generalizations about the potential impacts of these
as the chemical structure varies more widely. Categories 3 and 7 are most likely to contain BPA.