On the bottom of most plastic containers is a number inside a triangle ranging from 1 to 7. This number represents a Resin Identification Code associated with the type of plastic material. Unfortunately, some plastics are more toxic than others. Some are more environmentally friendly; and some are easier to recycle than others. Understanding the Resin Identification Code can help you protect your health. It can also help you to protect the environment and recycle in a responsible way.
The Seven Classifications
#1 PET – Polyethylene Terephthalate is one of the most commonly used plastics found in most bottles storing water, sodas, juice, and general packaging. PET plastic can be RECYCLED, but is intended for single use only since repeated use increases both leaching and bacterial growth. PET must be stored in a cool environment.
#2 HDPE – High-Density Polyethylene is the sturdy plastic used producing milk jugs, toys, detergent and cleaning agent containers, shampoo and liquid soap containers, cereal box liners, and some plastic bags. It does not break down under sun exposure or from extreme heating or freezing. It is one of the safest forms of plastic and it can be RECYCLED.
#3 PVC – Polyvinyl Chloride – is a soft and flexible plastic used to make food wrap, cooking oil bottles, teething rings, children toys, pet toys, garden hoses, food trays, bubble wrap, and plumbing parts. It’s called the “POISON PLASTIC” because it contains many toxins such as phthalates used as a softener, which is a hormone disruptor. Sorry moms! These chemicals have disrupted the endocrine systems of wildlife, causing testicular cancer and infertility. Some scientists believe they are responsible for a similar adverse effect in humans, too. Therefore, PVC should not be used for eating, drinking, or used with children. It is generally NOT RECYCLABLE.
#4 LDPE – Low-Density Polyethylene is tough, lightweight, and heat-resistant. It is typically used to make grocery bags, dry cleaning bags, some food wraps, squeezable bottles, and bread bags. Although it is considered relatively SAFE plastic, it is NOT RECYCLABLE.
#5 PP – Polypropylene is tough, lightweight and used to package yogurt and margarine containers, medicine bottles, disposable diapers, straws, packing tape, pails, and eating utensils. Although labeled as “Microwave-Safe,” it is not advisable to eat any food microwaved in any plastic containers. If you use a microwave, it is always best to use ceramic or glass. It is RECYCLABLE.
#6 Polystyrene or Styrofoam is used to make disposable drinking cups, food containers, egg cartons, foam packaging, and some eating utensils. BEWARE, evidence clearly shows these plastics leach toxic chemicals, ESPECIALLY WHEN HEATED. It’s DIFFICULT TO RECYCLE these products, and they take hundreds of years to decompose.
#7 Other Plastics (BPA, Polycarbonate and LEXAN) This is a category for other plastics. Of particular concern is those plastics packaged in polycarbonate containers using BPA (Bisphenol A)—a xenoestrogen and known endocrine disruptor. These plastics are used to make baby and water bottles, Sippy cups, water cooler bottles, medical and dental devices, CD’s, DVD’s, some computer parts and sports equipment. BPA is linked to obesity, cancer and endocrine problems.
Here is a pneumonic device that helps you to remember which plastics are safe and which are not.
1, 2, 4, 5 – STAY ALIVE
3, 6, 7 – GO TO HEAVEN
It’s best to avoid these three bolded plastics especially when eating, drinking, or being used with children in any way. They only get you to heaven sooner. #3 and #6 are due to the poisons they leach which is intensified when heated. #7 is due to the chemical BPA which is a hormone disruptor.
According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, one study indicated that 95 percent of all plastic products were positive for estrogenic activity. This means they can potentially disrupt your hormones and possibly alter the structure of human cells. This poses risks to both children and adults. How’s that for finding estrogen in unexpected places. Remember, my post on “WE LIVE IN AN ESTROGENIC WORLD.” Well, here’s more evidence! So technically, it’s best to not drink or eat from any plastic.
Plastics are here to stay. We live in a plastic world. We’ve also learned that we live in an estrogenic world. These plastics, however, are finding their way into our environment, and most importantly into our bodies. This accumulation in our bodies over time has biological consequences. And now there’s new evidence linking plastics to brain function. Therefore, we must reduce the plastics we use and avoid some that pose risks to our heath.
Next week, we will look at sensible solutions. Much of these is new information to me. What are you learning about the safety of plastics? And now when environmentalists complain about the use of plastic straws, I NOW UNDERSTAND WHY! IT ALL COMES BACK TO US LIKE A BOOMERANG!
Here’s to your health!