Many chemicals we encounter in everyday life are harmful for us. Within the past couple of years, I have began thinking more about how plastic can deteriorate human health. Especially with encouragement from my mother not to drink from water bottles that have sat in the sun because she heard that can make the water a carcinogen. I’m curious about the validity of her warning, and what other negative effects plastic may have.
If you look around wherever you are right now, I’m sure you’d see some plastic. A lot of plastic is made with a chemical called Bisphenol A or BPA according to the National Institute of Health. BPA is used in plastic and on metal cans because it is durable, and comes off clear according to the American Chemistry Council.
According to Dr. Mercola, many different symptoms have been found to be caused by BPA. First of all, the chemical acts like estrogen in the body. BPA can cause issues in the reproductive system, and pregnancy complications including birth defects. Acting as a hormone may also jump start puberty, and even lead to hyperactivity. Going back to what my mother initially told me about BPA being a carcinogen, she was partially correct. The National Center for Health Research says that fetus’ who have BPA have higher chances for certain cancer types later in life, and also that cancer cells with BPA are not as receptive to treatment.
Topics around public health and products we use scare me. For all we know, plastic could be the next cigarette: widely used in society and seen as safe for decades. Articles such as Why You Don’t Need to Fear BPA by Armi Legge which taunt this idea are insane. Andrew taught us in class that in the mid 1930s, most of society thought of cigarettes as safe, and by the 50s people were dying left and right because of the cigarettes. Looking at history, we could be in the oblivious stage when it comes to plastic and no one has found the mechanism for a disease or illness yet. Even though there have been many animal studies and even some human studies that prove the danger of BPA, we still do not take meaningful action.
One experiment by Barry Delclos gave rats 5 mg/kg of weight BPA through a pump for 7 days a week for 14 weeks and a link to a pdf of the experiment can be found here. The BPA had a bad effect on the girl rats, but not the boy rats. Although relating animal results to human isn’t always accurate, it should still be taken into serious consideration. According to Sabrina Tavernise, the FDA has banned BPA in baby bottles, so the fact that BPA isn’t seen as safe for infants also raises another red flag. Plastics made without BPA often use a different chemical called Bisphenol S, or BPS. Sandee LaMotte says that a UCLA study unfortunately showed that BPS and BPA have comparable effects. This may mean that even those consumers who go out of their way to make sure the plastics they use do not contain BPA may not even be doing any good.