Friday, April 9, 2010

TIME: The Perils of Plastic

I'm sure that right about now all you Apple haters are expecting another rant about the iPad that came out this week. All in due time my friends. Today however I'm bringing you quite an interesting bit of reading about the dangers of plastic. "Plastic? How can it be in any way harmful?" you say. Prepare to be amazed dear reader.

The chemicals in plastic, as well as in many industrial man-made products, have been a nuisance to many scientists over the decades. Studies that were made concerning the contaminated plastics found that the quantities that were present in the many food packagings and containers were not high enough to pose a problem. Not anymore. A host of modern illnesses have been tied to plastics: obesity, diabetes, autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder among many others.

During recent years the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been making many failed attempts at preventing chemicals in plastic from reaching the world population only managing to restrict a small percentage of them. The most dangerous substances by far are bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates( present in Polyvinyl chloride) which may affect the endocrine system by mimicking or changing the concentration of hormones, which are powerful chemical messengers capable of initiating long-term effects such as growth.

"It's not the environment that's contaminated so much, it's us"  Dr. Bruce Lanphear, director of the Cincinnati Children's Environmental Health Center

For example, not so long ago, scientists learned that the safe limit for lead levels, which can directly reduce IQ, is much lower than other studies have shown. Another example is BPA which has been found to be present in 93% of the modern world population. The problem is that BPA is a synthetic estrogen which can influence the production of adrenaline or testosterone in the human body causing numerous changes in behaviour and appearance. These chemicals not only affect our own bodies but our future generations as well. Children are much more susceptible to disease due to their growth.

All in all, it has been shown that we can no longer ignore the danger of plastic. The EPA has been slow to implement successful strategies for the banning of the chemicals, but progress has been slow. A worldwide consensus must be reached if we are ever going to manage this potential a,nd at the same time, quite real threat to our health. "There'll be a day in the future when all chemistry is going to be green," I and many others are probably asking: When?

By Bryan Walsh Thursday, Apr. 01, 2010,28804,1976909_1976908_1976938-1,00.html