Monday, April 9, 2012

What Are The Toxic Plastics To Avoid?

It seems like just about every day we learn about another toxin in our presumably safe home.  Whether it’s that water bottle you’re drinking out of or the plastic dishes you store your food in some plastics are leaching poisons into your home and into your body, increasing your toxic load.  However, not all plastics are bad.  Plastic in general is a very useful resource because it enables us to reuse products time and time again, thus conserving resources. Let’s take a look at a few different types of plastic and learn which ones are safe to use.

Polycarbonate water bottlePolycarbonate water bottle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Polycarbonate

This plastic is responsible for releasing Bisphenol A which has been in the news a lot lately because it’s found in a number of water bottles and large water jugs, certain types of Nalgene bottles, baby bottles, car parts and other common manufactured food storage containers. Bisphenol A has been linked to various types of cancer and other diseases. The easiest way to identify this plastic is to look at the recycling label on the bottom of the container. If it says 7, other, or PC then steer clear of it.

Polyethylene Terephthalate

This plastic is commonly used for water bottles and soda bottles. It’s generally safe for one-time consumption however multiple uses, like refilling that same plastic water bottle over and over again is not all that healthy.   Over time, and especially when exposed to heat, the plastic will begin to degrade and leach (and bacteria can begin to grow).

High Density Polyethylene

This is what milk containers and those plastic grocery bags are made from.  It is recyclable and is generally labeled HDPE, and is generally safe for multiple uses.

Plastic recycle logo PVC, Polyvinyl Chloride T...Plastic recycle logo PVC, Polyvinyl Chloride  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Polyvinyl Chloride

This is an extremely toxic plastic and is commonly called PVC.  It’s used in window frames, to wrap meat in your grocery store, in shower curtains,  in your plumbing and in many baby toys like rubber duckies and mattress covers.  It can release toxic fumes (you probably are familiar with the strong smell of a new shower curtain liner) which are quite harmful, but if fumes are allowed to dissipate before bringing into the home, it becomes more inert and less harmful. To identify this plastic look for the recycling label 3 or PVC.


This plastic is used to make plastic silverware, coffee cups, take out containers and egg cartons.  It’s commonly called Styrofoam.  It has been linked to cancer.  It’s often labeled PS or 6 for recycling.


Polypropylene or PPE is a commonly used and safe plastic.  You’ll find food bags, cups and plastic bottles, medicine bottles and other food storage items are often sold in this plastic.

Low Density Polyethylene

Another safe one, this plastic is what makes up your garbage bags, ketchup squeeze bottles and the plastic wrap you use to store food in your refrigerator. It’s commonly labeled 4 or LDPE for recycling purposes.

By and large manufacturers are getting better about using safe plastics to create their products.  However, it always pays to know what you're buying and potentially putting into your body. The plastics to look out for (and not buy) are PVC, Polycarbonate, and Polystyrene because they are the most toxic and when thrown away will continue to leach toxins into the soil.  Making informed choices when purchasing plastics can help keep your family and the planet safer.

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1 comment:

  1. The information which you have provided is very good. It is very useful who is looking for Plastic Products Manufacturers In Delhi.