To Your Health!: The perils of the evil twins in plastics

By Richard S. Gubbe

They should be known as the evil twins of our environment. BPAs (Bisphenol A) and Phthalates are not only polluting worldwide, but are making people fat and killing them of cancer. As usual, Americans are slow to act on the alarm bells ringing throughout studies and tests that have poured in the last two years.

Plastic bags and bottles have garnered a great deal of fanfare calling for their elimination, yet few are moving quickly enough to legislate their elimination. BPAs were called out for delivering risky residuals in baby bottles and have been banned in most advanced countries.

Bisphenol A is an organic compound with two main purposes—to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins. Phthalates (thalates) are mainly used in plastics to increase flexibility, transparency and durability. They rub off and find their way into our fat cells.

The evil twins are not being phased out quickly enough despite an outpouring of studies and research. The dangers of BPAs surfaced in 2008 after several governments issued reports questioning its safety, prompting some retailers to stop selling products made with this lethal substance.

A 2010 report from the FDA raised concerns regarding exposure of fetuses, infants and young children. Canada became the first country to declare BPA a toxic substance.

Products containing Bisphenol A first surfaced in 1957, and at least 8 billion pounds of BPA are used by manufacturers yearly. Bisphenol A has been labeled an endocrine disruptor, which often leads to cancer.

60 Minutes recently warned of many household items that were taken for granted to be safe. Phthalates are found in fishing lures, caulk, paint pigments, shower curtains, vinyl upholstery, adhesives, floor tiles, food containers and cleaning products. Personal care items containing phthalates include perfume, eye shadow, moisturizer, nail polish, liquid soap and hair spray.

The damage done by the evil twins is extensive. Damage to the thyroid and other organs has been documented.

Sheryl Crow proved her breast cancer was caused by heated plastic bottles she drank water from in her car—a common practice in warm states.

Another culprit in delivery is the microwave when plastic wrapping and containers are heated. The result is a residual in our food.

The problem is our bodies are taxed in expelling these residuals when more and more chemicals are added to the physiological mix every day. The effects of hitting ourselves over and over with a hammer have yet to be taken to heart by most people.

While we may choose to not care about polluting the environment with plastic bags and bottles, maybe, just maybe, we ought to think about the effects on humans and animals. The battle cry for change also needs to be sounded for the danger of epoxy resins used as coatings on the inside of almost all food and beverage cans. Glass is safer, and better packaging needs to be invented.

Scientists and biologists are studying the link between industrial pollutants and obesity. The U.S. government coined a word last September for metabolism-altering chemicals, calling them obesogens. Calories aren’t the only cause of obesity in America—pollutants from plastics share the burden of making it harder to lose weight.

Now, we know why dieting doesn’t always work. Diet food products are often microwaved. Are we literally killing ourselves trying to lose weight?

The solution: aluminum water containers, BPA-free plastics, cloth shower curtains, glass storage containers and glass baby bottles. Safer cleaning products and a reduction in personal-care products will help the body eliminate BPAs and Phthalates.

And one more suggestion: throw your microwave into the street for the junk man to pick up.

Richard Gubbe is an award-winning journalist, public relations specialist and Reiki Master Teacher. He is a longtime Rockford resident who has taught at Rock Valley College since 2003.

From the May 4-10, 2011 issue

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