In an earlier post we mentioned that children who are on the Autism Spectrum or who experience ADD/ADHD have a lot of difficulty getting rid of toxins in their bodies. This of course exacerbates autistic symptoms and makes life more difficult not only for the child but for the rest of the family as well.
Some of the most prominent toxins are found absolutely everywhere and that makes it difficult to control. Those that are present in our own homes, however, can be eliminated. All it takes is knowing what they are, where they hide, and be willing to make a bit of an effort to rid our homes of these dangerous chemicals…if only for our children’s sakes.
The most obvious and the most common of these toxins are plastics. They can be found everywhere from the kitchen to the bathroom to the playroom to…well, you get the picture. So let’s get a little more familiar with the different plastics out there. Why not start with the various classifications? Each one of these categories have been given a number. You know, those little numbers in those triangles?
Classification of Plastics
Ever wonder what those numbers in the triangles at the bottom of your plastic containers mean? It certainly can be confusing to say the least. Does it tell us what the plastics are made of? Does it tell us if they can be recycled? Well, a little bit of both actually. It tells us the main plastic ingredient that was used in the making of specific containers, toys, and more, and it tells us that some are more recyclable than others.
I have so much information to share with you about this topic so take a deep breath, hang on to your hats, and please don’t get overwhelmed! Oh, and make sure you watch this 4-minute video from the Today Show on “The 7 Deadly Plastics”!
Here’s a basic chart to help you sort through all the numbers: (I found this partial chart on google images. It had no credit assigned to it so I’m afraid I can’t attach credit to it either.)
#1 – PET or PETE (Polyethelene Terephthalate)
One study that looked at 63 brands of bottled water found that concentrations of antimony were more than 100 times the typical level found in clean groundwater. The operative word here is “clean.”
This study also found that the longer a PET bottle sits on the shelf—in a grocery store or your pantry—the greater the amount of antimony present. The amount of leaching from these PET bottles increases the more they are exposed to sunlight, higher temperatures, and varying pH levels. Ever leave your water bottle in the car? If you do, DO NOT DRINK the water from these bottles! Throw it out!
Brominated compounds have also been found to leach into PET bottles. Bromine displaces iodine in the body, and is a central nervous system depressant. It can accumulate over time, and trigger paranoia and other psychotic symptoms.
#2 – HDPR (High-Density Polyethelene)
In one study, 95 percent of all plastic products tested were positive for estrogenic activity. This means they can disrupt your hormones and even alter the development of your cells, which puts infants and children at even greater risk since their growth rate is accelerated. Let’s not forget that their bodies are much smaller and therefore are affected by toxins more quickly than adults are. In this particular study, even HDPE products that were free of bisphenol-A (BPA) still tested positive for various other estrogenic chemicals.
#3 – PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)
PVC contains numerous toxic chemicals including lead and DEHP, a type of phthalate used as a plastic softener. As if the lead wasn’t bad enough, phthalates are considered “gender-bending” chemicals which cause males of many species to become more female (think males developing breasts – let’s be honest, we’ve all seen these men).
Phthalates disrupt the endocrine system, causing testicular cancer, genital deformations, low sperm counts and infertility not only in humans but also in a number of species, including polar bears, deer, whales, otters, frogs, and the list goes on and on.
Do you have flexible vinyl flooring in your home, or a padded playmat floor for your toddler to play on? There’s a good chance they’re made from toxic PVC. This kind of flooring has also been linked to chronic diseases like allergies, asthma and even autism.
PVC is one of the worst health and environmental offenders.
#4 – LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene)
LDPE is considered to be a low-toxin plastic. It’s used in the production of bread bags, produce bags, squeezable bottles as well as milk and juice cartons, TetraPaks, and hot/cold beverage cups. Although LDPE does not contain BPA, it can leach estrogenic chemicals, much like HDPE.
I actually find LDPE to be an oxymoron because a toxin is a toxin whether it’s high or low, a toxin is still a toxin.
#5 – (Polypropylene)
Polypropylene is used in straws, yogurt containers, syrup, ketchup, and medicine bottles. Even though polypropylene is considered a low-toxin plastic that is somewhat tolerant of heat, at least one study found it to leach a minimum two toxic chemicals!
#6 – PS (Polystyrene)
Polystyrene, a.k.a. “Styrofoam,” is used in egg cartons, disposable plates, cups, bowls, take-out containers, coffee cups, meat trays, packing materials, and more. When heated, polystyrene can release styrene, a suspected nerve toxin and carcinogen.
Heating styrofoam or using it for hot foods and beverages makes it leach toxins even more, (fast food containers anyone?) so try to avoid food and drinks in polystyrene containers at all costs, and definitely don’t use them in the microwave!
#7 – Other
This pretty much is a catch-all category. It’s used to describe products made from other plastic resins not included in categories 1 through 6 or those made from a combination of plastics. While there are many different types of #7 plastics, the most common include 5-gallon-size water bottles, baby bottles and other polycarbonateplastics.
Let’s not forget where plastic comes from – OIL!!! You know the stuff that goes into your car? It’s by-products? That’s where plastic comes from. Hmmm, for some reason the theme to “The Beverly Hillbillies” is playing in my head…Now it’s in yours too, isn’t it?
To help you remember all of this information, I’ve re-posted the short 4-minute video from the Today Show titled “The 7 Deadly Plastics.” It’s quite entertaining actually! Oh, don’t forget to sing along it’s got a catchy tune!