Plastic has infiltrated almost every aspect of our children's lives. They use it, they eat and drink from it, and they fall asleep and sleep on it. During the first years, even its ends are wrapped and cleaned with it.
The indestructible material is convenient, but it also has a bad reputation, and for good reason. It is known to be filtered, which means that if it is heated or scratched, the chemicals can end up in the food, or directly in the mouth of a baby, if you suck it enough. Some of these chemicals are badociated with a lot of frightening risks. They could increase the risk of cancer and infertility and affect brain development, among other issues. But we really do not know to what extent this constant exposure to plastic will affect children in the long term.
Even so, even if we want, it is almost impossible to completely eliminate the plastic from their lives. I know, because I tried. I have two children, one of 3 and the other of 10 months. Good luck trying to find the favorite snacks of your children that are not packaged in clear and fragile things. (I'm looking at you, basically at all cookie brands!)
But parents are not totally impotent. There are things we can do to limit our children's exposure to potentially harmful ingredients in plastics, according to Dr. Aparna Bole, a pediatrician and member of the Executive Committee of the Environmental Health Council of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
"It's tempting to just throw away your hands," Bole said, recognizing the overwhelming amount of confusing information about plastics and the lack of clarity in the product's ingredients.
We asked you to describe a simple action that parents can take to get rid of the most worrisome plastics in their homes. What he told us was surprising.
Bole recommends taking the habit of looking at the bottom of plastic products to see what category of recycling they are in. You are looking for a triangle of adolescence, with only a number in the center. The digits you want to avoid are 3, 6 and 7. (You may even want to acquire the habit of singing the three numbers in your mind to memorize them).
These three are composed of chemicals that are considered very worrying when it comes to toxicity. (Products labeled with "greenware" or "biobased" probably do not contain certain chemicals, but they are not necessarily completely safe). For plastic products that are not labeled with a number, it is simply impossible to know what is in or not. , they.
Typically, you will find the No. 3 stamped on teething rings, toys, plastic curtains, take-away packaging and personal care products. These items are made of polyvinyl chloride (generally known as PVC) and the release of phthalates is a concern, a binding agent that makes the plastic malleable and is found in a myriad of consumer products, not just plastic. The most common fear is that certain phthalates can act as endocrine disruptors that affect reproductive hormones, according to studies conducted in rodents. There are many types of phthalates, some of which are forbidden for use in toys and products for child care, such as teething rings, as they could affect male bad development.
Researchers are investigating whether phthalates could increase childhood obesity (the results are inconclusive) and contribute to cardiovascular disease. Early exposure to phthalates, which are restricted in Europe, may also be related to neurological development and behavioral problems in young children.
Items No. 6 are made of polystyrene and include disposable plates and cups (like those red Solo party cups!), Meat trays, egg cartons and take-out containers. When heated, they can release toxic materials such as styrene., That can be absorbed in the digestive tract. Styrene has been linked to headache, fatigue, dizziness, confusion and other problems in factory workers who inhale mbadive amounts on a regular basis. There is no research showing negative health effects in adults or children who may be exposed orally at low concentrations. (Styrene is also found in cigarette smoke and is released by photocopiers).
No. 7, the "various" category, is generally a mixture of plastics. This number is found on bottles and 3 gallon and 5 gallon water bottles. Some of these items contain Bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial chemical that could disrupt the body's hormonal system.
While children are more vulnerable to these risks because their bodies are still developing, Bole said that it is a good rule of thumb that everyone avoid eating the materials that fall into those three categories.
(I did an exhaustive search in my house, turning the products over and squinting to find out what category I was in. I found a number of things in my kitchen that bore the dreaded labels 3, 6, and 7, including the articles I did not expect, such as measuring cup that I have been using for five years.)
In addition to avoiding these three types of plastic, Bole also recommends avoiding the use of microwaves in any type of plastic, even if it has the "microwave-safe" label. The lighter the plastic feels, the worse it is to put it in a microwave. Ideally, we should not put plastic in the dishwasher. (To get extra credit, Bole also suggested that you do not put warm or hot liquid in a plastic container or bottle, which increases a lot when you heat bad milk and the formula, which you recommend to make in a glbad bottle if possible) .
Making the plastic hot is a problem because it can lead the material to decompose and leach chemicals such as BPA and phthalates, which are considered "endocrine disruptors". It is likely that the migration of these chemicals is greater with fatty foods, including meats and cheeses, than with other foods.
When possible, changing plastic with other materials is also a good move. Using stainless steel plates and cups, for example. Or store food in glbad containers instead of plastic.
Bole regretted that consumers have to do this kind of research, noting that these worrisome chemicals should not be included in the products in the first place. It may seem intimidating, he said, and you may not be able to fully protect yourself from these omnipresent ingredients. But arm yourself with the information available is a place where anyone can start.
"It can be paralyzed," Bole said as he tried to decode all the information about the risks badociated with plastics. "But there are some very simple ways in which everyone can make healthier choices."
This story is part of a series on plastic waste, funded by SC Johnson. All content is editorially independent, without influence or contribution from the company.