New evidence links the chemicals in plastic to serious health problems, meaning we might all think twice before wrapping our food in cling film.
Although holistic health practitioners have been warning of the toxicity of plastic for decades their advice has gone largely ignored by many health professionals. The Daily Mail reports that two major studies last year link 175 compounds in plastic — found in cling film and kitchen storage boxes and bottles — to a risk of cancer and fertility and foetal problems.
The nastiest of all those toxic chemicals is Bisphenol A (BPA), which is widely used in plastics manufacture. In the body it mimics the effects of the female sex hormone oestrogen and has been linked to breast and prostrate cancer and early sexual female development.
Consumer tests found that BPA is still present in many plastic bottles and other plastic food utensils sold in the U.K. Breast Cancer UK is calling for a British ban on BPA, bringing us in line with other European countries.
Even if you buy BPA-free plastic containers you may still be at risk.
“Many baby bottles now make a selling point of being BPA-free but we don’t know what chemicals are replacing BPA and the manufacturers don’t have to tell us,” said Andrea Gore, professor of pharmacology at the University of Austin in the U.S.
So what changes can you make at home to keep yourself and your family safe from toxic plastics?
- Heat food in glass or ceramic instead of plastic.
- If you use cling film to cover cooked food in your fridge remove it before reheating the food in the microwave.
- Cover a plate in the microwave with another plate or a chemical-free paper towel as an alternative to cling film.
- Don’t reuse plastic water bottles. Thrifty, yes — but as plastic decays particles of BPA can be released into drink or food that touches it.
- Get rid of any reusable plastic food containers showing signs of wear from regular use and washing, including Tupperware.
- Keep plastic out of the dishwasher as the exposure to heat causes the compounds to become less stable and more likely to leach into food.
- Switch plastic drink bottles for glass or lightweight metal sports bottles.
- Avoid styrene, a component of polystyrene cups and some egg boxes, and benzene, as they have both been classified as a possible carcinogen by the U.S. International Agency for Research on Cancer.
- Give your children paper instead of plastic straws.