Plastic is all around us. The science of this material began in the 1850s and by 1925 a new word was introduced into our language. Unfortunately, every piece of plastic every produced, if not recycled, is still somewhere on the planet.
Plastics have many chemical compounds in them. A couple which are especially troublesome are BPA and phthalates. These chemicals help to make the plastics more pliable. But they are bad for our health.
They are known as endocrine disruptors. They interfere with our body’s ability to read its own hormones correctly. Such hormones would include estrogen, testosterone, growth hormone, insulin, and thyroid.
BPA is literally everywhere, including the air. Commonly found in baby bottles, water bottles, food and beverage can liners, pacifiers and baby toys, water bottles and cash register receipts. You may see products saying “BPA free” but these are not necessarily safer.
Phthalates are chemicals derived from naphthalene, of moth ball fame. That smell kills moths, but it is also carcinogenic and toxic to humans. Phthalates are solvents and help carry fragrance in products.
Fragrance free products may be a good place to start reducing your exposure to this chemical.
Phthalates are commonly found in wellness, personal care and cosmetic products, such as
pharmaceuticals, nutritional supplements, herbal remedies, nail polish, lotions, soaps, cleansers and hair care products (shampoos, sprays). They reduce cracking of nail polish, reduce stiffness of hair spray, and allow products to penetrate and moisturize the skin more easily.
Phthalates are volatile and can leach out from the plastic container and into the food or product being stored. These compounds are also linked to certain cancers. BPA and phthalates are found is virtually every human tested.
Wildlife can be affected many ways also. Young birds may die of starvation because of the plastics found in their stomachs. Fish are negatively influenced since much plastic eventually winds up in the ocean.
Larger sizes of plastics may be found in areas of the ocean such as The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This patch is currently twice the size of Texas. Plastics may be reduced in size to microparticles and fish consume them.
A few additional resources to learn more are:
National Geographic Planet or Plastic at
Life without Plastic
My Plastic Free Life
Environmental Working Group