Friday, 14 June 2013

the meaning of plastic recycle symbols and health

 Today there are so many things that are made out of plastic and many things that we eat and drink come in plastic packaging. The increased awareness of the harmful chemicals in plastics is causing concern and it is important to understand which plastics are safe and harmful. So, how do we determine which are the safe plastics and which ones we should try not to use? It is important to understand the types of plastics. All plastics are identified by a code numbered 1 through 7 that is typically located on the bottom of the packaging with the famous recycling triangle around it. The next time you use plastic (or buy canned food for your bomb shelter), pay attention to the following numbers to know what to avoid:

1 Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE) Used to make soft drink, water, sports drink, ketchup, salad dressing bottles, peanut butter, pickle, jelly and jam jars.
BAD: Due to antimony leaching although many sources will say it is ok for one time use.

2 High density polyethylene (HDPE) Milk, water, and juice bottles, yogurt and margarine tubs, cereal box liners, and grocery, trash, and retail bags.
GOOD: Not known to leach any chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting hormones.

3 Polyvinyl chloride (V or PVC) Most cling-wrapped meats, cheeses, and other foods sold in delicatessens and groceries are wrapped in PVC.
BAD: To soften into its flexible form, manufacturers add “plasticizers” during production. Traces of these chemicals can leach out of PVC when in contact with foods. According to the National Institutes of Health, di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), commonly found in PVC, is a suspected human carcinogen.

4 Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) Some bread and frozen food bags and squeezable bottles.
OK: Not known to leach any chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting hormones, but not as widely recycled as #1 or #2.

5 Polypropylene (PP) Some ketchup bottles and yogurt and margarine tubs.
OK: Hazardous during production, but not known to leach any chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting hormones. Not as widely recycled as #1 and #2.

6 Polystyrene (PS) Foam insulation and also for hard applications (e.g. cups, some toys)
BAD: Benzene (material used in production) is a known human carcinogen. Butadiene and styrene (the basic building block of the plastic) are suspected carcinogens. Energy intensive and poor recycling.

7 Other (usually polycarbonate) Baby bottles, microwave ovenware, eating utensils, plastic coating for metal cans.
BAD: Made with biphenyl-A, a chemical invented in the 1930s in search for synthetic estrogens. A hormone disruptor. Simulates the action of estrogen when tested in human breast cancer studies. Can leach into food as product ages 

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