Mindfully.org This Domain & Website Are For Sale. Serious Inquiries Only. Contact Here

Home | Air | Energy | Farm | Food | Genetic Engineering | Health | Industry | Nuclear | Pesticides | Plastic
Political | Sustainability | Technology | Water

The Sixth Basic Food Group

PAUL GOETTLICH / Mindfully.org 29nov2004


"Plastic, the 6th basic food group" APC

This is advertising by the American Plastics Council

Plastics: An Important Part Of Your Healthy Diet

You could think of them as the sixth basic food group.

Oh, you certainly wouldn't eat them, but plastic packaging does help protect our food in many ways. To help lock in freshness, plastic wrap clings tightly to surfaces. To help lock out moisture, resealable containers provide a strong seal. And plastic wrap helps extend the shelf life of perishable produce, poultry, fish and meats. To prevent spoilage and contamination, some varieties of plastics help keep air out. While others let air in to help the food we eat stay fresher longer. Plastics also let you see what you're buying, taking the mystery out of shopping. All of which makes them versatile, durable, lightweight and shatter-resistant. To learn more, call the American Plastics Council (APC) at 1.800.777.9500 for a free booklet. Plastics. One part of your diet you may never break. 


The text above is an actual advertisement created at great expense by the American Plastics Council. If it has its way, you won't have a choice. Fortunately, this is the end of the fairy tale. 

Please continue by scrolling down, but understand that the truth may have the effect of altering your life.
We hope that you continue and act upon what you learn.






When you eat or drink things stored in plastic,
 wear plastic, sit on plastic, taste it, smell 
 it, and so on, plastic is incorporated into you.

There is a bi-directional communication between
 plastic and things that contact it, meaning that 
 plastic gets into the food, and food gets into the
 plastic, as well as you.

So, when you eat the things that plastic contacts, 
 quite literally, it becomes you

In other words, you are what you eat
                        . . . drink. . . and breathe. . .

Brillat-Savarin, JA. Physiologie du Gout, ou Meditations de Gastronomie Transcendante...Paris: Sautelet et Cie, 1826. Note: Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826) was a French lawyer and politician who achieved fame through a book, Physiologie du Gout. "You are what you eat comes from the quote by Brillat-Savarin "Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are."

* "Plastics. One part of your diet you may never break."
 . . .you may want to but it is utterly impossible.

What's so bad about having plastic in you and on you?

Two things make it hazardous.  

First, plastic is made by combining many toxic synthetic man-made chemicals by a process called polymerization. The plastics industry tells us that this process binds the toxic chemicals together so tightly that they are no longer toxic to us. But they don't tell us that the polymerization process is never 100% perfect. It always leaves some of those toxic chemicals available to migrate out of the plastic product and into whatever contacts it—your food, you, air, water, and so on.

Secondly, many of these chemicals not only cause cancer, but also disrupt the normal functioning of the endocrine system of most animals, including humans. They have been given the name endocrine disruptors. These toxic man-made chemicals have been shown to be accumulating in the bodies of both humans and the animals we eat. Hormones act in single digit part/per/trillion (PPT) concentrations, and have an effect on virtually every bodily function. The effects of disrupting the normal activities of hormones can be devastating and permanent. The industry answer to the warnings of environmentalists is that the toxic chemicals that make up plastics do not come out. Once understand that you are aware of the fact that those toxicants always migrate from all plastics, then they change their tune and say that it happens at extremely low levels that cause no harm, and that the migration happens well below the regulatory limits. On that point they are mostly right, but they wrote the regulations and eased them into law through political contributions.

There is more detail on this below, but understand that there are no regulations that protect anyone or thing from the PPT concentrations that do get into our food, water, air, and bodies. One thing to remember when reading this is that a great deal of the harm caused by plastics cannot be repaired. The damage is permanent.

Q:     What is common to all of these items?
A:     PLASTIC can be found in all of them

The most prophetic announcement in the sixties of plastic, even more so than the film The Graduate, was a song published in 1967 named Plastic People by Frank Zappa. It explains much of what we have against plastics. This may need translation for some viewers. If so, please do not hesitate to ask questions. 

Many of the synthetic manmade chemicals in the plastics pictured above and others are toxic during their production**, use**, and disposal**.

To rely on industry for health studies of chemicals is suicidal. Public information from EPA is generally not in step with current knowledge. For those who value their health and that of their children, the EPA cannot be a prime source because of industry/political pressure. Testing for low-dose toxicity and long-term health effects on the thousands of existing chemicals is quite rare. At the same time, new ones are being created at an alarming rate without adequate testing. The total worldwide output of synthetic chemicals is staggering. Currently, there are 15,000 chemicals which are produced at 10,000 pounds per year or greater. All told, there are between 85,000 and 100,000 chemicals in commercial production. Very little is known about most of them.

The American Plastics Council is hard at work 'helping' you to understand how plastic is safe, reliable, and recycled. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Why synthetic chemicals can be so dangerous 

Finding "the cure" has created great wealth in the U.S. 

But because prevention isn't a money-maker, only lip-service is paid to it. 

Probably everyone knows what a carcinogen is because of all the press "the cure" gets --  a carcinogen creates cancer. As its head cheerleader, the American Cancer Society (ACS) spends millions of advertising dollars that come in from donors including the very corporations** that create the carcinogenic chemicals. Industry also pressures legislators to reduce restrictions in the name of jobs. Their huge ACS donations are not only tax deductible, but are used by the corporations to give themselves a benevolent appearance and to relieve their conscience. Unfortunately, quite a bit more than cancer is at stake

For many years, toxicologists have chanted that "the dose makes the poison", or the greater the quantity of a toxin, the greater the risk of a negative health effect. Theophrastus Paracelsus, the man that perceived of the concept, was born in 1493. Though widely dispelled by current science as ancient history, it is still heard frequently from industry toxicologists and those dependant upon industry cash. But most current-day regulations were written with this as a basis. In other words, our regulations are based on 16th century science.

Today, it's a whole new story, and it is hoped that toxicologists catch up. Chemicals can have many different deleterious health effects at high and/or low doses. Extremely low doses of some chemicals called endocrine disruptors (EDs) can have permanent severe consequences. Embryos and the very young are the most vulnerable to this attack on the endocrine system because of their still-developing bodies. The timing of an ED is at least as important as the dose, and perhaps more so. An infinitesimally small dose of an ED at the time a particular organ is developing can have a wide range of effects from halting or confusing the development, to skewing it in an entirely different direction than what should be expected.

EDs disturb the endocrine system's normal orchestration of many essential bodily functions. The outcome of such interference can be permanent and may not be evident until after puberty. Damage done to a fetus can be passed on to its descendents. It is not known how many chemicals are endocrine disruptors. Combinations of EDs can have a synergistic effect, that drastically increase the toxicity greater than the sum of the parts.

The list of deleterious health effects includes physical deformities, cancer (brain, breast, cervix, colon, testicles), early puberty, immune deficiencies, endometriosis, behavioral problems, lowered intelligence, impaired memory, skewed sexuality (see note below), low sperm count, motor skill deficits, reduced eye-hand coordination, reduced physical stamina, and much more. These have all been evidenced in animal studies and many have been noted in human studies. Since we do live in a sea of man-made toxicity, there is great difficulty in pinpointing exactly which chemical or combination of chemicals was the cause of a cancer or deformity. 

  • Sea of toxicants surrounding us on a day-to-day basis (figuratively and literally a sea of plastics)

  • Synergistic effect of combing more than one makes them even more potent

  • Extreme lack of human testing data

  • Inadequate testing of new chemicals

  • Nonexistent testing of older "grandfathered" existing chemicals

  • Connecting cause and effect difficult because many effects are not known until after puberty

This is something that needs discussion -- proven in nature, not proven in humans, but humans are indeed animals, and we have no reason to believe that we are an immune species.

Note on Skewed Sexuality
It has been observed in nature that endocrine disruptors have the capability of skewing the physical and psychological qualities of an animal's sexuality. EDs can reverse the sexuality of males and females. See Permanent and Functional Male-to-Female Sex Reversal

Female gulls have been observed nesting together while the male doesn't act the part of male, and is not excited by females. Normally a male/female couple is found together. This was put together by Theo Colborn in her book Our Stolen Future.

Dr. Louis J. Guillette Jr. observed alligators in Lake Appopka, FL that have extremely small penises and complete change-overs to female in some. See Reduction in Penis Size and Plasma Testosterone Concentrations  in Juvenile Alligators

EDs are thought to play a role in speeding up maturation as evidenced in young girls developing breasts prematurely. See Young Puerto Rican Girls with Premature Breast Development

Professor vom Saal at the University of Missouri, found that female mice will develop sandwiched between two males. Based on their position relative to their neighbors in the womb, aggressive females were, as predicted, the ones who had developed between males. The prenatal hormone environment of mice leaves a permanent imprint on each female that is also recognized by the noses of males for the rest of their lives. The attractiveness of females depends on the social chemicals they give off, which are called pheromones. The pretty sisters smell "sexier" to males because they produce different chemicals than their less attractive sisters. For more on this see Hormones: Chemical Messengers That Work in Parts per Trillion

There has been a lot of animal research on this. While there are no substantial data on this in humans, we believe that good reason exists to warn people of the great possibility of EDs having the very same effects on humans.

EDs disrupt the normal functioning of hormones, which are effective in concentrations of parts per trillion. One can begin to imagine a quantity so infinitesimally small by thinking of a drop in a train of tank cars. One drop in 660 tank cars would be one part in a trillion; such a train would be six miles long.** 

Another example of how potent hormones are is that intrauterine position, or the position the embryo has in the uterus, significantly and permanently effects the reproductive organs in male mice.** 

The Food Quality Protection Act and other statutes require EPA to develop and implement a screening and testing program on chemicals to assess their endocrine-disrupting properties. However, industry has made sure that EPA is grossly under-budgeted for implementation activities for its endocrine disruptor screening program. But EPA has only $3.2 million for all endocrine disruptor work in Fiscal Year 1999, and the proposed figure for FY 2000 is $7.7 million. Industry has not expressed a willingness to contribute resources to the EPA. Some estimates put the cost of screening up to $1 million per chemical. **


What the industry calls recycling is not at all what most people think of when they hear that term. The hard, cold fact of the matter is that there is no such thing as recycling of plastic. Recycling means a closed loop. Plastic 'recycling' is not a closed loop. In other words, it is not recycled. 

According to Webster's: 
Recycle: (")rE-'sI-k&l to return to an original condition so that operation can begin again

The number one reason is that it has an extremely limited lifespan. None of the plastic milk bottles or soda bottles that we put in our curbside recycling bins are made back into new milk bottles or soda bottles. Because plastic degenerates each time it is heated, all those plastic bottles are generally made into products such as park benches-- products that don't require standards as high as those for milk bottles. Virtually all milk bottles are new plastic made mostly from the same natural gas that you cook your meals with. When the useful life of those park benches has ended, they are not qualified to be recycled. It's a quick dead end for plastic.

In order to make a valid energy use comparison to glass, the short life of plastic must be accounted for. The energy used to recycle glass is considerably less than what is used to make new plastic, making glass the winner by far. Glass bottles used for milk are typically washed an average of seven times before being recycled into new bottles. In California alone, about 55 million single-use milk containers are put into landfills each month. (Straus Family Creamery, Marshall CA)

For a detailed paper on plastics recycling, see the Berkeley Plastics Task Force Report\

What's really made from used plastic bottles?
Products made from recovered plastic bottles include drainage pipes, toys, carpet, filler for pillows and sleeping bags, and cassette casings.  But not more bottles.

10% of the average grocery bill pays for packaging (mostly paper and plastics) - that's more than goes to the farmers. Every year, we make enough plastic film to shrink-wrap the state of Texas. The average 1992 American car contains 300 pounds of plastic made from about 60 different resins. (EPA Plastic Facts http://www.epa.gov/seahome/housewaste/src/plastic.htm )

the plastic avengerTHE PLASTIC AVENGER

The  List of Characters

    PS ( Polystyrene aka 'Styrofoam')

Many food containers for  meats, fish, cheeses, yogurt, foam and clear clamshell containers, foam and rigid plates, clear bakery containers, packaging "peanuts", foam packaging, audio cassette housings, CD cases and disposable cutlery. and more are made of polystyrene. 

  J. R. Withey in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives 1976:
 styrene and vinyl chloride monomer are similar:

"Styrene monomer readily migrates from food contained in it. It makes no difference whether the food or drink is hot or cold, or contains fat or water. ...It is not inconceivable that the animal body behaves as a "sink" for styrene monomer until the lipid portion of the animal body either becomes saturated (although death would probably occur prior to this event) or the tissues are equilibrated at the same concentration as the exposure atmosphere.".**

PVC (polyvinyl chloride aka "the devils resin"*)

PVC is used for many products including: flooring, toys, teethers, clothing, raincoats, shoes, building products like windows, siding and roofing, hospital blood bags, IV bags and other medical devices.

One of it's major ingredients is chlorine. When chlorine-based chemicals are heated in the presence of hydrocarbons they create dioxin, a known carcinogen and endocrine disruptor. 

All PVC production releases dioxin. Other sources of dioxin are: production and use of chemicals, such as herbicides and wood preservatives, oil refining, burning coal and oil for energy, all car and truck exhaust, cigarette smoke, and much more.

PVC medical waste is regularly incinerated all around the country. The IES (Integrated Environmental Systems) incinerator on High Street in East Oakland, CA burns medical waste that is made of PVC. IES has a history of violations and a total disregard for public health. Incinerators are the one largest major source of dioxin. Incinerator "experts" say that the latest super-heated incinerator technology detoxifies dioxin, but that's not the case. It condenses after it leaves the incinerator and is just as toxic as ever. 

Many incinerators are sited in the middle of heavily populated regions, next to schools and day care centers. But even if they were as far away from civilization as possible, they are no less a threat. Dioxin in the exhaust of incinerators travels many thousands of miles in the atmosphere --  all the way to the arctic.**  This has had an extremely bad effect on the Inuit, who depend upon fish as their main food source. Because of the accumulation of dioxin in the fish, the Inuit have extremely high body levels of dioxin. ** 

Plasticizers are used in PVC that migrate into a blood recipient via the blood bag, IV bag, IV tubing. Even though non-PVC bags are manufactured, many corporations won’t switch, saying it’s a health risk to switch. In reality, it's a case of putting the cost of change above the health of our health and that of our children.

Children's toys are made with PVC. To soften them, a common plasticizer in them that is still used is DINP phthalate. In spite of being asked by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission to stop using DINP in  PVC toys and teethers, there are still manufacturers that insist on using it. Many have "voluntarily" stopped after years of knowing of its toxicity. 
[More on toxic incinerator releases]

    *aptly named by Mark Gorell of the Berkeley Plastics Task Force.

Plastic recycling regularly means incineration. PVC is no exception. 

Building products cause dioxin to be released when they are produced and when they are burned, either accidentally or incinerated as a part of waste reduction plans. 

Anyone who receives blood, is on kidney dialysis, or has tubes either inserted in them or has liquid or air transported to their body is at risk. [More on medical plastics]

About 85% of medical waste is incinerated, accounting for ten percent of all incineration in the U.S. Approximately five to fifteen percent of medical waste needs to be incinerated to prevent infectious disease. The remaining waste, while not posing any danger from infectious pathogens, is very dangerous when burned. It contains high volumes of chlorinated plastics including PVC (also the toxic substances mercury, arsenic, cadmium and lead.) Health Care Without Harm  [More on incineration toxic releases]


Hexachloroethane is one chemical of note that is used as an initiator in the formation of polyethylenes. It is listed as a reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen. Hexachloroethane has had a variety of applications as a polymer additive. It has flame-proofing qualities, increases sensitivity to radiation cross linking, and it is used as a vulcanizing agent. Added to polymer fibers, hexachloroethane acts as a swelling agent and increases affinity for dyes. Hexachloroethane may emit tetrachloroethylene, carbon tetrachloride, and chlorine when thermally decomposed. Occupational exposure of workers in industrial facilities manufacturing or using hexachloroethane may occur through inhalation or dermal absorption. Hexachloroethane has been detected in river water, drinking water, industrial effluent water, and effluent from sewage treatment plants that use chlorination (NTP 361, 1989). Hexachloroethane also was detected in waste streams and stack emissions of incinerators burning pesticide-related wastes. **


Softened vinyl products manufactured with phthalates (and used in the United States) include an array of consumer and medical products:
Vinyl clothing, Emulsion paint, Footwear, Printing inks, Non-mouthing toys and children’s products, Product packaging and food wrap, Vinyl flooring, Blood bags and tubing, ure monitoring tubing, IV containers and components, Cannulas, Surgical Gloves, Breathing tubes, General purpose labware, Inhalation masks, Inflatable splints, Bed pans, basins, and bed rails, Thermal blankets, Catheters, Thermoformed plastic trays, Device packages, Dialysis tubing, Drip chambers, Nasogastric tubing, Enema tips

Different phthalates are used to create the different products listed above. Besides DEHP and DINP, other phthalates include Butyl Benzyl Phthalate (BBP), Diisodecyl Phthalate (DIDP), di-n-octyl phthalate (DNOP), di-n-Hexyl Phthalate (DNHP), and di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP).

The final content of phthalate in the finished plastic product varies depending on the product but ranges from 10 percent to 60 percent of the product mass on a weight basis.

Phthalate exposure is both higher and more common than previously suspected. Exposure data for phthalates is critically important among potentially susceptible populations [child-bearing aged and pregnant women]. Although DEHP and DINP are produced in the largest quantities, these reference range data indicate a substantial internal human dose of DBP, DEP, and BzBP. MBP and MBzP are of particular concern because of their developmental and reproductive toxicity in animals (12-15). Therefore, assessments of health risk from exposures to phthalates should include exposures to DBP, DEP, and BzBP.**

The phthalates that we identified have been classified as endocrine disruptors. This study suggests a possible association between plasticizers with known estrogenic and antiandrogenic activity and the cause of premature breast development in a human female population.** 

On March 21, 2001, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released the first-ever assessment of chemicals in the bodies of average people, including information with potentially significant implications for the health of Americans. The study found surprisingly high levels of chemicals called phthalates in the blood of humans tested. Other studies of environmental chemicals have relied on measuring levels in the air, water or soil. The current report measured blood and urine levels of 27 chemicals in a sample of about 5,000 Americans during 1999.  ** 

Regarding the CDC report, Dr. John Balbus, with the George Washington University School of Public Health, said,

"Exposure to phthalates appears to be higher than previously believed. The CDC report suggests that the scientific models of exposure that we use generally underestimates the public's real-world exposure. This report should serve as a wake-up call--Americans are clearly being exposed to an array of toxic chemicals--many of which can and probably should be avoided. Every family in America should be taking note of this unprecedented information and should be asking for more of it."

It is known that some phthalates are passed from the mother both across the placenta1 and via milk.

1 Singh AR, Lawrence WH, Autian J. Maternal: fetal transfer of 14C-di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate and 14C-diethyl phthalate in rats. J Pharm Sci 64:1347-1350 (1975). 
Dostal LA, Weaver RP, Schwetz BA. Transfer of di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate through rat milk and effects on milk composition and the mammary gland. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 91:315-325 (1987).

Phthalates have been reported in water, sediment, air and biota sampled from the Gulf of Mexico, and river water and sewage effluent samples from the Greater Manchester area, United Kingdom. Food samples contaminated with phthalates have also been reported. **

Phthalates are regulated as a toxic substance under environmental laws that limit the discharge of chemicals to air, land and water. There are no limitations, however, on the amount of phthalates used in most consumer products.

DINP (diisononyl phthalate)

In a national press release the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission "requested industry to remove phthalates from soft rattles and teethers. ...also has asked the industry to find a substitute for phthalates in other products intended for children under 3 years old that are likely to be mouthed or chewed."** CPSC Commissioner Ann Brown advised parents on national TV "if you have a child who teethes a lot, who is mouthing toys a lot...you may want to get rid of [mouthing toys containing phthalates] until the new products are on the market." The final CPSC report points out that "there are a number of significant uncertainties in this assessment including the cancer risk"3  

3  The Risk of Chronic Toxicity Associated with Exposure to Diisononyl Phthalate (DINP) in Children's Products - U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Dec98 PDF files available at http://www.cpsc.gov/phth/dinp.html 

Before September 2000, a petition by the Washington Toxics Coalition to EPA contended that DINP causes cancer, systemic toxicity, developmental toxicity, and endocrine disruption.  EPA reviewed the petition and available data and preliminarily determined that DINP meets the listing criteria and that there is sufficient evidence that chemicals in the DINP category can reasonably be anticipated to cause cancer or other serious or irreversible chronic liver, kidney, or developmental toxicity in humans.** 

B.C. Blount et al in Environmental Health Perspectives Oct 2000 , "...phthalate exposure is both higher and more common than previously suspected. Exposure data for phthalates is critically important for human risk assessment, especially among potentially susceptible populations."** 

According to the National Environmental Trust, "based on the CPSC's own information on the range of uncertainty of their data, their conclusions can be interpreted to show that as many as 2% of U.S. children (or one child in 50) under 12 months could be exposed to amounts of DINP greater than the recommended daily intake level. This amounts to 64,000 U.S. children potentially being exposed to excessive amounts of DINP every year. If the CPSC were to use more realistic chewing and mouthing times, or if their studies showing the amount of leaching of DINP were closer to what some European studies found, the number of children potentially at risk would be substantially higher.

When purchased for laboratory use, DINP is labelled with a number of hazard phrases, including "harmful by inhalation, in contact with skin and if swallowed", "possible risk of irreversible effects" and "may cause cancer". In contrast, toys containing up to 40% by weight DINP in a readily leachable form are frequently labelled "non toxic". Greenpeace study 

Estrogenic **

DNOP (Di n octyl phthalate)
DNOP is a colorless, odorless, oily liquid that doesn't evaporate easily. It is a man-made substance used to keep plastics soft or more flexible. This type of plastic can be used for medical tubing and blood storage bags, wire and cables, carpetback coating, floor tile, and adhesives. It is also used in cosmetics and pesticides. Known exposure to DNOP occurs mainly from eating food or drinking water that is stored in plastic containers. This substance has been found in at least 300 of the 1,416 National Priorities List sites identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

DNOP is often used in mixture with other phthalate compounds and can be difficult to track. DNOP is easily absorbed orally. 

Eating foods stored in containers made with DNOP that has leaked into the food. Receiving blood transfusions, dialysis, or other medical treatments in which the equipment is made of plastics containing DNOP. Breathing contaminated air, drinking contaminated water, or touching contaminated soil near hazardous waste sites or an industrial manufacturing facility that uses or makes DNOP.

Little information is known about the health effects that might be caused by DNOP. It is not known what happens when you breathe or ingest the chemical. Some rats and mice that were given very high doses of DNOP by mouth died. Mildly harmful effects have been seen in the livers of some rats and mice given very high doses of DNOP by mouth for short (14 days or less) or intermediate periods (15 to 365 days) of time, but lower doses given for short periods of time generally caused no harmful effects. No information is available on the health effects of having DNOP in contact with human skin. It can be mildly irritating when applied to the skin of animals. It is not known whether or not DNOP could affect the ability to have children, or if it could cause birth defects. **  ATSDR Sep97

  BPA (bisphenol-A)
Bisphenol- A  is a monomer of polycarbonate plastics. While it very little like estradiol structurally, it is however, very similar to diethylstilbestrol (DES), a synthetic substance with potent estrogenic activity. Because of superior stability, toughness, and pliability, BPA-based epoxy resins [plastics] are used in many consumer products, including inner coating of food cans, dental composites, and drug delivery systems. BPA has been detected in liquid from canned vegetables and in saliva collected from subjects treated with composite dental sealants. It competes with tamoxifen, an anti-cancer drug, reducing its effectiveness. It is lipophilic or accumulates in fat, whether in the human body or cheese on the supermarket shelf. **

According to EPA this substance/agent has not undergone a complete evaluation and determination under US EPA's IRIS program for evidence of human carcinogenic potential.**

BBP or BzBP (butyl benzyl phthalate)
Used as in adhesives, PVC flooring, wood finishes, tampon ejectors. Dermal (skin) absorption also occurs at a significant rate for phthalates with short side chains such as BzBP, DEP, and DBP4

4Elsisi AE, Carter DE, Sipes IG. Dermal absorption of phthalate diesters in rats. Fundam Appl Toxicol 12:70-77 (1989)

Could contaminate indoor air through its use in flooring or wood finishes

Causes reduction in mean testicular size and reductions of 10-21% in daily sperm production. used widely in industrial and some household detergents and cleaners, in certain plastics, and in many other ways, human exposure via routes other than drinking water are likely. There is more evidence for concern about the possible risk to human health because BBP and other phthalates are the most ubiquitous of all environmental contaminants, primarily because of their use as plasticizers, and human exposure is likely to be high. For example, a recent study reported levels of BBP alone as high as 47.8 mg/kg in some foil-wrapped butters, which would mean that ingestion of 50 g/day of such butter by a 60-kg woman would lead to an intake of approximately 40 µg/kg/day, which approaches the nominal intake values in the present study. As the levels of total phthalates in other dairy produce can exceed 50 mg/kg, and there are many other possible sources of human exposure to these compounds, the present findings suggest that further studies of the estrogenicity of phthalates should be a priority. 5

5Sharpe RM et al. Gestational and Lactational Exposure of Rats to Xenoestrogens Results in Reduced Testicular Size and Sperm Production. Environmental Health Perspectives v.103, n.12, Dec95

Estrogenic **

Exposure to BBP is measured by looking for its metabolite, mono-benzyl phthalate, in the urine. These metabolite measurement tests have only recently been perfected and put to use by the CDC.

DBP (dibutyl phthalate)
Dibutyl phthalate is used in many products including nail polishes, cosmetics, and insecticides. Effects on second generation greater than first generation, causing male infertility in rat studies.

Caused shortened length of gestation, reduced body weight,  increased relative liver weight and significantly reduce number of live pups per breeding female rat. Body weights remained low into adult life, along with anemia, liver abnormalities, testes degeneration, reduced fertility, lowered testis epididymal weights of males, an abnormal deficiency of cholesterol in the blood, lipofuscin accumulation (pigment left over from the breakdown and digestion of damaged blood cells) found in the liver. Toxic to fetus, and to male and female reproductive organs. Mutagenic. **

Estrogenic **

DEA (diethanolamine)
Diethanolamine is widely used in the preparation of diethanolamides and diethanolamine salts of long-chain fatty acids that are formulated into soaps and surfactants used in liquid laundry and dishwashing detergents, cosmetics, shampoos **, and hair conditioners. Diethanolamine is also used in textile processing, in industrial gas purification to remove acid gases, as an anticorrosion agent in metalworking fluids, and in preparations of agricultural chemicals. Aqueous diethanolamine solutions are used as solvents for numerous drugs that are administered intravenously. DEA causes liver, kidney, thyroid and skin cancers in rats.** The FDA is still undecided on this issue.

DEP (diethyl phthalate)
Estrogenic **

DEHP (diethylhexyl phthalate)
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Toxicology Program classifies diethylhexyl phthalate as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen." Some uses are as a solvent in erasable ink; as an acaricid for use in orchards; as an inert ingredient in pesticides; as a component of cosmetic products; as a vacuum pump oil; in detecting leaks in respirators; and in the testing of air filtration systems, toothbrushes, auto parts, tools, toys, food packaging, insecticides, mosquito repellents, aspirin and volatile components of cosmetics -- perfumes, nail polishes and hair sprays.. There is particular concern about the susceptibility of children to toxic effects because the plasticizer is used in pacifiers and other plastic baby products. In the food industry, di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate is no longer used to plasticize plastic wrap. Primary routes of potential human exposure are air inhalation, ingestion, and dermal contact. A substantial fraction of the U.S. population is exposed to measurable levels of di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate.Citric acid-based plasticizers are being evaluated to replace di(2- ethylhexyl)phthalate.** 

           (see other uses listed above with PVC or Phthalates)

It is a phthalate ester widely used as a plasticizer to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl) products soft and flexible. As early as 1970, studies identified and measured DEHP and its metabolites in human tissue and serum from exposure to DEHP in patients receiving dialysis, blood transfusions, artificial ventilation, and exchange transfusions. DEHP exposures occurring in the medical setting are of particular concern because the amount of exposure can be substantial and because those exposed, such as premature infants and other neonates or adults with life-threatening illnesses, may be particularly vulnerable to the effect of toxic chemicals. Because conversion of DEHP to mono-ethylhexyl phthalate (MEHP) occurs primarily in the intestinal tract, exposures to DEHP by ingestion may be more hazardous than by intravenous exposure, which largely bypasses the intestinal tract. DEHP is highly toxic and has a wide range of deleterious effects on the testis, ovaries, lungs, heart, kidneys, fetus/embryo, and liver. In spite of strong actions on the part of groups such as Health Care Without Harm, industry opposes the use of safer alternatives to PVC that exist and are being used presently. **

The Ministry of Environment Japan has added DEHP to its list of endocrine disruptors recently, along with three other substances.**

Estrogenic. Production in 1996 was 400-500 thousand tons per annum in Europe alone. **

DIBP (diisobutyl phthalate)
Estrogenic **

Di-n-butyl phthalate
Cellulose plastics, solvents for dyes, solvents for cosmetics (i.e., nail polish), food wrap, perfumes, skin emollients, hair spray, insect repellents.

DTDP (ditridecyl phthalate)
Estrogenic **

Alkylphenol polyethoxylates
Phthalates, several of which have been shown to be estrogenic.3

3White R, Jobling S, Hoare SA, Sumpter JP, Parker MG. Environmentally persistent alkylphenolic compounds are estrogenic. Endocrinology 135:175-182 (1994) .

Isohexylbenzyl Phthalate (IHBP)

World Production of Plastic
World plastic production uses 4% of the annual oil production while fuel for transport uses 31% of annual oil production. Overall car production uses 7.5% of plastics produced. The average car is made of 9% plastic.
The Ford Focus uses shredded cotton from old denim jeans to deaden sound. Shredded plastic bottle caps are incorporated into the heater bodies.

When vehicles reach the end of their life:

  • parts from the vehicle that can be sold as spare parts may be removed, cleaned and tested where appropriate;

  • hazardous and recyclable fluids e.g. oil and auto coolants have to be drained and removed. This also includes CFCs which, in accordance with an EC Regulation on ozone depleting substances, have to be recovered and destroyed;

  • the rest of the hulk is flattened and taken to a shredder where it is broken up into smaller manageable pieces, which are then separated by material types. Ferrous material is sorted by magnetic separation. Non ferrous metal is sorted both mechanically and by hand and sold for use in new products; and

  • remaining waste, made up mainly of plastics, rubber, glass, dirt, carpet fibres and seat foam is sent to landfills sites.

source:  The Environmental Impacts of Motor Manufacturing and Disposal of End of Life Vehicles Cleaner Vehicles Task Force, Department of Trade and Industry, Automotive Directorate, UK http://www.autoindustry.co.uk/library/books_reports/74289.pdf 5mar01

"Although the plastic industry has maintained an adequate supply of recycled-content plastics, it has experienced an unprecedented decline in value in comparison to virgin plastics. Innovative products, such as guardrail blockouts and plastic drainage and lumber products, may prove to be the savior of the plastic recycling industry."
- Craig Stoller, President, Haviland Plastics, Inc.

Ohio Recycling Market Development Plan, several State of Ohio Agencies31dec98

Dangers of Plastic Production
Independent consultants Henry Cole and Ken Brown, in their recent report "Advantage Glass," explained that "the major ingredients used in glass production are naturally occurring minerals including sand, limestone, soda ash and feldspar. These materials are solid, inert, non-flammable, and are largely non- toxic. ... The major chemicals used to make plastic resins pose serious risks to public health and safety. Many of the chemicals used in large volumes to produce plastics are highly toxic. Some chemicals, like benzene and vinyl chloride, are known to cause cancer in humans; many tend to be gases and liquid hydrocarbons which readily vaporize and pollute the air. Many are flammable and explosive. Even the plastic resins themselves are flammable and have contributed to numerous chemical accidents."

 "The production of plastic emits substantial amounts of toxic chemicals (eg. ethylene oxide, benzene and xylenes) to air and water. Many of the toxic chemicals released in plastic production can cause cancer and birth defects and damage the nervous system, blood, kidneys and immune systems. These chemicals can also cause serious damage to ecosystems."

Volatile Organics. Ethylene oxide is discussed here as an example of a volatile organic compound. Ethylene oxide is used as sterilant in hospitals. It is also the principle metabolite of ethene, a precursor to polyethylene plastics and other synthetic chemicals. Ethylene oxide can be measured by gas chromatography in air or biological specimens. Ethylene oxide reacts in the body with hemoglobin; N-terminal valine may be released by a modified Edman degradation process and measured by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. DNA adducts can be measured by a number of techniques, including 32P-postlabeling mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography/electrochemical detection. (Environmental Health Perspectives v105, s.4, Jun97 Barrett et al. 12th Meeting of the Scientific Group on Methodologies for the Safety Evaluation of Chemicals: Susceptibility to  Environmental Hazards)

HDPE (High Density Polyethylene)
fishing net, ropes, tapes, tarpaulins, mono-filaments, fuel tanks, small/medium/large containers, containers for detergent, cosmetics, pharmaceutical products shopping bags, general purpose industrial packaging materials, agricultural mulching film, films for high-speed processing crates, containers, closures general purpose goods, housewares, toys, base cup for PET bottles, pressure pipes for water, sewage, and gas pipes, 

MDPE (Medium Density Polyethylene)
Chemical Tank, Oil Tank, General Usage - Toy, Water Tank, Snow Tool, Ductile Pipe Coating, Steel Pipe Coating

LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene)
Heavy-duty wrapping film, Wide blown film, shrink wrapping, general purpose wrapping, thin films, shrink films, agricultural films for greenhouse application, protective films, gel free films for lamination, packaging materials for consumer electronics, automobile interiors, thermal insulation sheets, food containers and detergent bottle. Resin Bag, Sugar Bag, Corn Powder Bag, Bottle Box Wrapping, Greenhouse, Tunnel Film, Mulching Film, Shopping Bag, Food Packing Film, Auto Interior, PET Coating, Paper Coating, Toothpaste Tube, Mayonnaise Bottle, Ketchup Bottle, Primary Insulation for wire, 

LLDPE (Linear Low Density Polyethylene)
packaging, agricultural uses, heat sealing lamination, high clarity film, stretch wrapping, stretch wrap food wrapping, shopping bag, mulching film, fertilizer bag, refill bag, resin bag, 

EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate)
dry lamination, agricultural film (virgin resin), special agricultural film (long-life film, antifogging film),  sandals, mid-soles for sports shoes, packaging materials

ABS (Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene)
Pipes, many other uses

PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) Resin Code 1
Soda and water bottles

HDPE (High-density Polyethylene) Resin Code 2
Milk and water jugs, laundry detergent bottles

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) Resin Code 3

LDPE (Low-density Polyethylene) Resin Code 4

LLDPE (Linear Low-density Polyethylene) Resin Code 4

PP (Polypropylene) Resin Code 5
    Homo - garment packaging, food and cigarette packs, albums and tapes, containers, toys, kitchen utensils, medical supplies, housewares, and transparent containers, fishing nets, woven bags, ropes and bands, multi-filaments, BCF, carpets, straw, high-rigidity filaments, high-quality PP monofilament, spun-bond, non-woven fabric, Metallized Film, Housewares, Ice Box, Microwave Oven, Jar Pot, Coffee Maker, Paper Coating, Woven Bag Coating, Transparent Stationery File, 
    Antifungal PP (also PS and ABS)
Rice containers, water purifier filter housings, Dish Washer/Dryer, Kitchenware
Inhibits colon-germs and has antibiotic properties. 

PS (Polystyrene) Resin Code 6

Please continue by going to the home page and selecting one of the many issues listed there. There are literally thousands of files to chose from on Mindfully.org

To send us your comments, questions, and suggestions click here
The home page of this website is www.mindfully.org
Please see our Fair Use Notice