Going through your refrigerator, cupboards, and home in general, you’ll likely find different items made of plastic. However, not all plastics are created equal. The types of plastic are identified by the number within the little triangular arrows symbol we often associate with recycling. Some plastics contain chemicals such as phthalates, Bisphenol A (BPA), and dioxins that can leach into food when in contact with it.
The degree to which these specific chemicals are considered dangerous for our health is widely debated, but they have been studied and shown to disrupt hormones. Also, the process of making these plastics uses, creates, and disposes of harmful chemicals which puts them into our environment. Here is what you need to know about the seven types of plastic for your health.
#1 – PET (polyethylene terephthalate)
Found in: water bottles, pop bottles, condiment containers
May leach: carcinogens, antimony
3 R’s: recyclable, not reusable
#2 – HDPE (high-density polyethylene)
Found in: milk jugs, detergent bottles, toys, some plastic bags
May leach: None, thought to be one of the safest plastics
3 R’s: recyclable, reusable
#3 PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
Found in: cling wrap, oil bottles, teething rings, toys, cables
May leach: phthalate DEHP which interferes with hormonal development, dioxin which is a carcinogen
3 R’s: not recyclable, generally long-lasting use
#4 LPDE (low-density polyethylene)
Found in: squeezable bottles, bread bags, grocery bags
May leach: none, considered low hazard
3 R’s: not commonly recycled – ask your depot, sometimes reusable
#5 PP (polypropylene)
Found in: disposable diapers, plastic bottle lids, margarine and yogurt containers, chip bags, straws
May leach: Mixed results in studies, has a higher heat tolerance
3 R’s: recycable, reusable
#6 PS (polystryrene) aka Styrofoam
Found in: take out containers, disposable dishes, egg cartons
May leach: styrene which is a possible carcinogen and affects the nervous system
3 R’s: recycling sometimes available, not reusable
Found in: baby bottles, sippy cups, 5-gallon water bottles, epoxy lining of tin food cans
May leach: BPA which is hormone disrupting and linked to cancer and obesity
3 R’s: hard to determine the ability to recycle and reuse because of the multiple types within this category
You can look at any of your containers and many other plastic products to see which of the seven types of plastic it is made of.
I looked through my own cupboards, and our Rubbermaid food storage containers are #5. I use them for food in the fridge, but I do not put them in the microwave because heating increases the amount of chemicals transferred. I’ve also started purchasing more glass storage containers and saving old jars over the years.
Do you reduce any of the seven types of plastics in your home? How?