We don’t believe that all chemicals are inherently bad and in fact if you listed off all the things that a banana is made from it makes it sound pretty terrifying. That said, plastics companies are playing a bit of a game with us and using some dodgy stuff to do it. I’ve written before about how they put “BPA FREE” on their bottles but fail to mention that they just replaced BPA with its evil twin BPS which does almost identically bad things in your body and to the seas. Phthalates (pronounced thal-ates) are a group of chemicals used to both soften and strengthen plastics and frankly they aren’t terribly good for you to say the least. The thing that I find worrying about this group of chemicals is that you can avoid plastics all you want and still be exposed because of the amount of them in the air. While they are in the air, they don’t last that long before light and temperature break them down. There is just so much of them, especially in urban areas, that it’s impossible not to breathe them. Concentrations are higher at home or at work.
Among the down sides are serious links to breast cancer, asthma and allergies in kids, pre-natal damage to kids intelligence and hormone problems in both sexes. There are plenty of links here and more details here.
It’s really surprising how it ends up in our systems. We eat it as pill coatings and capsules; in meat, milk and oils. Diet is the main way we take it in but we coat our kids in it with talc and we breathe it in that way too.
The question is, though, how do we avoid it. As usual, keeping away from plastic bottles for drinking from is a good way. Buying meat and veg from shops that use paper wrapping or indeed asking your butcher or grocer for paper wrapping might be a good thing. Finding older style cardboard or metal packaged products would be another. Buying pre packaged meat from supermarket chains and milk in plastic containers is not such a good thing at all.
Supermarket chains need to stop using so much wasteful packaging, and not just because of BPA and phthalates. Some people take the packaging off their shopping and leave it behind with the shop. If more and more people take that little stand, the chains will get pretty sick of having to deal with it and will have to look at cutting back.