- Vall-E-Vents, the San Fernanado Valley Sierra Club Newsletter, Jan-Feb., 2006.
Plastics – an Unhealthy Habit?
(#6 of the Plastic Plague Series)
Sarah S. Mosko, Ph.D.
Plastics are lightweight, flexible, durable and can be molded into just about anything. They fill our toy chests, refrigerators, medicine cabinets and desk tops. Since the explosion of consumer plastics in the 1950s, we have come to rely on them to get us through our busy lives. But, there is a dark side to plastics as well, and it has to do with our health.
Plastics can pose threats to human health at all stages in their life cycle, with specific risks varying with the type of plastic.
During synthesis from petroleum or natural gas, toxic chemicals are used which can be released into the air and water supply. For example, vinyl chloride (a known carcinogen) is used to make polyvinyl chloride or PVC plastics, and a chemical called perfluorooctanaote (PFOA) used in the production of plastic-coated non-stick cookware is also carcinogenic. Furthermore, an assortment of “additives” are often needed to lend particular characteristics to a product.