Beware of the plastic products around you

Alex, the son of his son, is almost a year old. He likes to put everything in his mouth, especially the bath toy. When he happily glared at the crab with fluorescent orange eyes and big eyes, I always got a little nervous. Will the plastic parts of the toy be eaten by him? This set of bath toys is produced and exported to the United States in China. The manufacturers claim that they are "safe and reliable" and the quality "reaches and exceeds" the US law. But what exactly does this mean? Does the United States have such a law? Is this my worry? Also, to what extent can my parents and other parents protect dear children from all kinds of environmental damage?
When I think of the world's dependence on chemical products and plastics, I can't help but think of what Donald Rumsfeld once called "known unknowns" - we all know that for 80,000 since the Second World War We know very little about the safety of other consumer chemicals, because there is no decree requiring human experiments on these products. The World Health Organization (WHO) stated in its 2012 report "The Scientific Status of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals": "At present, most commercial chemicals are not tested."
The main concern is the endocrine disruptor, a compound whose molecular structure is similar to our natural hormones. Because of their similar structure, they can bind to the same receptors that bind to natural hormones, thereby altering normal endocrine activity and thus affecting all aspects of our human health. The most worrying thing is children because these endocrine disruptors can cause permanent damage during the most sensitive growth sprints, first in the mother's uterus, and then in the puberty phase. The most notorious example is diethylstilbestrol (DES), which was used by many pregnant women after World War II to prevent pregnancy complications. However, people gradually found that the baby girl born to the mother who took the drug suffered from a rare vaginal cancer, and DES was banned as a carcinogen, but even now, the group of "DES daughters" still continue to encounter Reproductive health problems, and the problems are not only their own but also their daughters, which means that some endocrine disruptors can permanently change our genes and affect future generations. This is the modern warning fable that I am most worried about and the focus of WHO's attention: our children, our descendants.

The prestigious JAMA Pediatrics published a review of endocrine disruptors in 2012, basically agreeing with WHO's evaluation of this chemical, even though it is related to human research. Hard data is not very powerful, but it is enough to cause concern and concludes that “as a preventive measure, there are ways to reduce exposure of women and children during pregnancy to endocrine-disrupting chemicals”.

Click image to enlarge it.

What worries me is that although compounds like DES have been banned, there are still a large number of endocrine disruptors widely used in various daily necessities. The most commonly mentioned compounds include bisphenol A (BPA), Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and phthalate. Bisphenol A can be used to make shatterproof plastics. It has been used in the manufacture of plastic (milk) bottles, sucker cups for young children, and food and beverage (milk powder) cans for the inner coating since the 1960s. Polyvinyl chloride is a common material in transparent or translucent articles such as cling film, plastic soapboxes and tubing at home. Phthalates are the most common plasticizers and are very common in toys, cosmetics, and food packaging. They can cause harm to children and are associated with infertility, obesity, cancer and neurodevelopmental disorders such as behavioural abnormalities and low IQ. For bisphenol A, the standards of the international community and China are now very uniform. The EU, the United States, Canada, and China have banned the production of food containers (such as milk bottles) for infants and young children. As for phthalates, China’s quality standards have lagged behind. In February 2011, the EU has listed three common phthalates directly into the chemical “elimination list” in children’s products. The use of phthalate esters in toys, which is subject to strict control, and the determination of phthalate plasticizers in polyvinyl chloride plastics for national standard toys and children's products issued in 2008. Detailed regulations were made but no limits were imposed on their content. In the past two years, the quality inspection department has detected excessive phthalates in children's shoes and children's toys exported. In Taiwan, in 2010, a female worker who had been engaged in plastic film for many years and had long-term exposure to plasticizers was diagnosed with cryptorchidism. The attending doctor suspected that it was related to long-term exposure to higher concentrations of phthalates; In Hong Kong, a study conducted by the Baptist University in 2010 found that more than 90% of the phthalic acid diesters in the 200 Hong Kong blood samples examined exceeded the standard.

It should be pointed out that the main problem of these research and "consensus" statements is that almost all research is animal experiments rather than human experiments, so no one can play a ticket saying that the damage caused in animals will inevitably also appear in people. Body. The mice and monkeys in the lab are not human, and we do know that a large proportion of the drugs have achieved excellent results in mice, but they fail in the next phase of human experiments. Therefore, I need to admit that all medical concerns about modern social chemicals are not conclusive, and I hope that we will get more solid data in the future.

Some researchers have experimented with reducing this uncertainty by helping researchers remove all sources of plastic products in the home environment, such as plastic containers and prepackaged foods, and then monitor BPA and neighbours in their urine. The concentration of phthalate by-products. The research in these studies is striking and deeply disturbing. One of the most famous studies was conducted in the San Francisco Bay Area on January 2010. The researchers were from research institutes such as the Silent Spring Institute and the American Breast Cancer Research Fund. They removed all BPA and phthalate products from a total of 20 people in five households, and as a result, their concentrations in the urine did drop significantly. However, a similar experiment in 2013 showed a completely unexpected result: the experimental group showed a significant increase in the level of ortho-dimethylate. The researchers then examined the various food sources of the participants and found that the phthalate concentration of the meal was surprisingly high (21,400 ng/g) in its “relatively healthy” prepackaged food. Higher concentrations of phthalates are also present in perfumes such as dairy products and paprika (the former being more than 440 ng/g and the latter being 700 ng/g). The researchers speculate that this may be because the phthalates in the packaging material migrated into the food.

Hong Kong Centre Food Safety Plastics Packaging

Parents can find helpful advice on several consumer group websites and blogs. I prefer the "Soft Landing" blog, where you can find a very useful guide to buying security products. Also, the Hong Kong Food Safety Centre is very useful, not only provides a guide to the use of disposable plastic containers but also downloads a PDF version of the guidelines for the safe use of food packaging and containers. Similar recommendations were provided by the Pediatric Environmental Health Task Force. Here are some of the most recommended recommendations I have summarized:

1. Try to buy products that do not contain BPA, phthalates, and PVC. A detailed list can be found on the “Soft Landing” blog, especially to avoid baby products containing such ingredients.

2. Replace all plastic food containers with glass.

3. Refer to the plastic coding system guidelines to avoid products marked 3, 6 and 7 on the mark, using the products marked 1, 2, 4, 5, the latter material is more stable, better heat resistance, acid resistance, oil resistance, etc. characteristic.

4. Consider buying organic foods to reduce the risk of exposure to pesticides.

5. If you need to use plastic food film, use only PE (polyethene) film; avoid food contact with plastic film as much as possible; try not to heat the microwave in the microwave after wrapping the film.

6. In particular, do not let the film touch the surface of the liquid, and neither hot and cold liquids can be used.

7. Use a vacuum cleaner with a high-performance HEPA filter to regularly clean the carpet and floor in your home to reduce indoor dust damage.

8. The food packaged from the restaurant should be placed in a glass container as soon as possible after returning home. Never use a takeaway plastic box to heat the food, and do not eat the food directly.

As for Alex's bath toys? The “Soft Landing” blog included it in safer bath toys, and the manufacturer wrote to me several times to prove that these products “are free of BPA, phthalates and PVC”. So I will let him continue to lick the toy.

Post a Comment