Plastic Leaching: How Harmful Chemicals Are Getting Into Your Household

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What Is Plastic Leaching?

Plastic has become a staple in our lives, but it is not without its drawbacks. Aside from the ever-increasing pollution associated with plastic, plastic itself can be harmful in its daily usage. Plastic is found everywhere in our households from children’s toys to storage and packaging. We rely on plastic to protect our leftovers and store our everyday products. We do this without giving much thought as to how the plastic that is supposed to be protecting and conserving our items may also be contaminating them. Much of the plastic we use to protect and package contains harmful chemicals that can find their way into the products they are holding through a process called leaching. Leaching is the leaking of the harmful chemicals found in plastic into the inside of the plastic vessel. Over time, toxins leak out of the plastic and find their way into food, drinks and other items, leaving the items we are trying to protect and conserve actually at risk! What types of chemicals are in these plastics? Bisphenol A, styrene, vinyl chloride and antimony are some of the common chemicals that leach into your food and water.

What Is BPA?

Plastic contains a lot of harmful chemicals, one of which is polycarbonate which leaches bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is one of the more commonly mentioned leached chemicals and for good reason. BPA leaching occurs at higher rates when plastic is exposed to heat and can be toxic. Exposure to high levels of BPA can lead to obesity, asthma, cancer, heart disease and oxidative stress. Typically found in canned foods, reusable water bottles, soda and beer cans, fast food containers and cash register receipts, look for BPA-free alternatives.

What Is Styrene?

Another chemical found in plastic is polystyrene which leaches styrene. Exposure to styrene can lead to irritation of the skin, eyes, and upper respiratory tract, negative gastrointestinal effects, headaches, depression, fatigue, weakness, hearing loss, balance and concentration problems, central nervous system and kidney effects and even cancer. Most commonly found in fiberglass, rubber and latex it is also used to make structural aspects of your home including insulation, pipes and carpet backing.

What Is Vinyl Chloride?

You have probably heard of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) because it is the world’s third most widely produced synthetic plastic polymer (after polyethylene and polypropylene). Unfortunately, polyvinyl chloride is known to leach vinyl chloride after breaking down. Short-term exposure to vinyl chloride can lead to dizziness, drowsiness, and headaches. Long-term exposure and inhalation of large quantities of vinyl chloride can have more severe health effects. When inhaled, vinyl chloride is classified by the EPA as a carcinogen, meaning it is linked to causing cancer. As one of the most commonly used forms of plastic, PVC is prevalent in most plastic items.

What Is Antimony?

One chemical associated with leaching specifically in single-use plastic cleaning bottles is antimony. Antimony is a heavily regulated contaminant (including bioavailability limitation in Prop 65) given that it poses both acute and chronic health effects. Reuse of single-use plastic cleaning bottles is not recommended as more of this chemical will leach into the bottle with each reuse.

How To Reduce Your Risk

With mild to severe risks associated with plastic leaching, it is time to pay attention and take action. To combat leaching, experts encourage consumers to choose alternative materials when possible. Some alternatives are glass, porcelain and bioplastic. Read labels before buying containers to help avoid containers made with BPA, styrene, vinyl chloride and antimony. Many containers with recycling codes of three or seven are made with BPA.

Preventing exposure and reducing leaching can even be as easy as keeping your plastic containers out of the microwave. Higher temperatures increase leaching. While polycarbonate is strong and durable, it does break down over time. The breakdown is accelerated by exposure to heat, so making sure the containers you put in the microwave do not contain any harmful chemicals is key.

Blueland’s BPA-Free Solution

Unlike many conventional disposable cleaning bottles, our Forever Bottles carry no risk of leaching with continued reuse. BPA-free, these bottles are meant to be used forever so you never have to throw them away. From the materials to the manufacturing process, our bottles have been thoughtfully and responsibly designed and manufactured. Our Forever Bottles are made of acrylic, which is a non-toxic, safe and non-leaching plastic that is designed for durability and longevity. We have worked closely with leading environmental certification agency Cradle to Cradle from the inception of Blueland. We have a Platinum level certificate for Material Health for our cleaning and hand soap bottles, the agency’s highest rating in that category. Blueland Forever Bottles bring durability but leave out BPA and other chemicals.

The Clean Essentials

The perfect way to start cutting out single-use plastic from your home