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Plastics are Everywhere, even when and where we don’t want them…..

It’s no new news that the whole population around the planet are putting on weight. The numbers are staggering and without question influence our health. Let’s dive in to find out what may be one of the major contributors.

Obesogens 101:

What another term to learn, of course. Obesogens are disrupting chemicals getting into your body from….foreign sources that you may be using daily.

Obesogens are foreign chemical compounds that are hypothesized to disrupt normal development and balance of metabolism, which can lead to obesity The key to the obesogens story is that they are functionally defined as chemicals that inappropriately alter fat metabolisms normal state and add to fat storage, change our bodies set points, disrupt energy balance or modify our regulation of appetite and satiety (feeling full) leading to our promotion of fat accumulation and obesity.

The scientific community has  known for years that  the chemicals in plastic leach into their surroundings, into our food, air and on to our skin. A study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, ” Adipogenic Activity of Chemicals Used in Plastic Consumer Products analyzed 34 everyday objects that contain plastics. Their approach was to look at human cells, outside of the body, and analyzed the reactions on human cells. They evaluated  yogurt cups, vegetable trays, drink bottles, hair conditioners, shower slippers, dish sponges and more. The  news is that when they evaluated just 34 items they had a list of  629 chemical compounds, with 11 of concern. And you thought that these common items were commonly safe ?

The rest of the story is however a bit more complex.The industry struck back quickly with an article in Cosmetics and Toiletries  Their basis in part is that the researchers used a solvent to do the extraction of the chemicals from the items. This is not what happens in our bodies, so extrapolating to make this the real world effect is a bit of a stretch. Keep in mind however that there is still a reasonable concern of both ecological pollution and for some plastics a clear cut migration of the chemicals wreaking havoc and costing us our health.

We should however not take this simple study as the whole truth. What about the many studies showing association with the same chemicals and their impact related to the disorders of  obesity, type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) . In this study from 2012 we started to see the emerging science, The emerging role of endocrine disruptors in pathogenesis of insulin resistance: a concept implicating nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.   to the newer 2021 publication Role of Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals in the Pathogenesis of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A Comprehensive Review.

You could argue that the findings of higher levels of the endocrine disrupting chemicals are nothing more than curious coincidental findings, but even the association should have you pause. Why place a higher amount in you and your family when simple easy steps make a  substantial difference ? A good book for seeing real life change is “Slow Death by Rubber Duck”. The story is about what happens when you eat conventional vs unconventional

The study conclusion in chemicalleze: “The chemicals present in polyvinyl chloride (PVC)  and polyurethane (PUR) products most consistently induce potent adipogenic while compounds extracted from PET, HDPE, and PLA products were inactive.” Translation some plastics are the real culprits in terms of our current knowledge and to be avoided at all costs.

Microplastics:

Have you read about our now daily intake of micro plastics from items such as salt or bottled water or just breathing ?

In the article “A Review of Microplastics in Table Salt, Drinking Water, and Air: Direct Human Exposure” they did some calculations and found some really disturbing facts. Their charting of sources in salt, shown in figure S1 clearly indicates that our midwest is very polluted. As another check they took shellfish and checked for the microplastics and not surprisingly the findings are less than acceptable. Speaking of fish, did you know that “studies published from 2010-2013 found that an average of 15% of the fish sampled contained plastic; in studies published from 2017-2019, that share rose to 33%.“.

Now expand your though process to include the uptake of pesticides and other chemicals from the environment and there concentration in the microplastics. Not a pretty site for our chemistry !

Your probably well aware that there is leaching of these chemicals into our foods daily and we can amplify this by using heat think your microwave or even room temperature. We’ve all been exposed to the bioactive bisphenols and phthalates family. The move away from BPA/BPS/BPF especially in baby bottles has been widespread for years. BUT…. the problem persists in the US.

EPA:

Curious what the EPA says about this ? “Because BPA is a reproductive, developmental, and systemic toxicant in animal studies and is weakly estrogenic, there are questions about its potential impact particularly on children’s health and the environment.”

FDA:

Some updates on BPA, one of the plastic problems:  On January 27, 2022, the Environmental Defense Fund and others submitted a petition to the FDA to reconsider the removal or restriction of BPAs in materials that come into contact with food. They submitted research shows that BPA is associated with fertility issues, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. As a consumer you should know that the FDA has no current federal regulation of BPAs in materials that come into contact with your foods.
If you were a citizen in the European Union you’d take to heart the difference of opinion.  The European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA) found that the average American’s BPA exposure is 5,000 times greater than the safe level of 0.04 ng BPA per day, as set by the European Union.

Canada’s Government Ban of BPA

Like the US FDA, the Canadian’s banned the use of BPA and it’s chemical cousins in baby bottles. “Canada took action on BPA by banning the manufacture, importation, sale or advertising of polycarbonate baby bottles that contain BPA.”  This similar action was also in place in 2012 from the FDA. They specifically banned, BPA (Bisphenol A) in sippy cups and baby bottles.

Substitutions….not healthy:

But did you know that many of the BPA “free” products just made a simple change to BPF and BPS, cousin chemicals that may be more injurious ? These analogs still have the endocrine disrupting effects and may be worse. The ongoing issues may confuse consumer however, the science is clear, “Concern about the Safety of Bisphenol A Substitutes” and “Exposure to Bisphenol A, Bisphenol F, and Bisphenol S in U.S. Adults and Children: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2013–2014” tells us the substitution is taking place and continuing to put our children at risk.

Take Aways:

  • Consider your source of salt and salted products
  • Avoid as much of your plastic use and exposure as possible. For a good sourcing of options see our listing under
  • Still handling receipts from the store, go digital when possible
  • Always buy cans that are BPA Free….not totally safe, but better consider glass as an alternative
  • Glass and silicon containers are better choices
  • Consider alternatives to plastic wrap….
  • NEVER put plastic and food together in a microwave, period
  • Avoid using your dishwasher to wash plastics (due to heat, etc.)

Plastic number chart

 

 

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