- The news about plastics has been pretty alarming lately,
causing some of us to go dashing for the water bottles to see what kind
of plastic they are -- and find out if we've been unwittingly poisoning
our children and ourselves with chemicals leaching into the water from
- Simple Solution:
- If you've been concerned, here is a handy chart that
identifies the good, bad, and ok plastics and where they are found. Find
- 1. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE) Used to make
soft drink, water, sports drink, ketchup, and salad dressing bottles, and
peanut butter, pickle, jelly and jam jars. GOOD: Not known to leach any
chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting hormones.
- 2. High density polyethylene (HDPE) Milk, water, and
juice bottles, yogurt and margarine tubs, cereal box liners, and grocery,
trash, and retail bags. GOOD: Not known to leach any chemicals that are
suspected of causing cancer or disrupting hormones.
- 3. Polyvinyl chloride (V or PVC) Most cling-wrapped meats,
cheeses, and other foods sold in delicatessens and groceries are wrapped
in PVC. BAD: To soften into its flexible form, manufacturers add "plasticizers"
during production. Traces of these chemicals can leach out of PVC when
in contact with foods. According to the National Institutes of Health,
di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), commonly found in PVC, is a suspected
- 4. Low density polyethylene (LDPE) Some bread and frozen
food bags and squeezable bottles. OK: Not known to leach any chemicals
that are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting hormones, but not as
widely recycled as #1 or #2.
- 5. Polypropylene (PP) Some ketchup bottles and yogurt
and margarine tubs. OK: Hazardous during production, but not known to leach
any chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting hormones.
Not as widely recycled as #1 and #2.
- 6. Polystyrene (PS) Foam insulation and also for hard
applications (e.g. cups, some toys) BAD: Benzene (material used in production)
is a known human carcinogen. Butadiene and styrene (the basic building
block of the plastic) are suspected carcinogens. Energy intensive and poor
- 7. Other (usually polycarbonate) Baby bottles, microwave
ovenware, eating utensils, plastic coating for metal cans BAD: Made with
biphenyl-A, a chemical invented in the 1930s in search for synthetic estrogens.
A hormone disruptor. Simulates the action of estrogen when tested in human
breast cancer studies. Can leach into food as product ages.
- - Adapted From Green Remodeling, by David Johnston and
Kim Master (New Society Publishers, 2004).
- Copyright (c) 2004 by David Johnston and Kim Master.