Back to school: Here is why you should seriously rethink those plastic lunchboxes
We have all now become aware (I hope) of just how dangerous plastic is to our oceans and marine life, and collectively try to avoid things like plastic straws and disposable shopping bags.
However, there is no denying plastic is all around uf and in use by the vast majority of us every single day. From cling film to sippy cups, lunch boxes, take away cartons and water bottles, we are consuming things from plastic pretty much daily.
This, scientists and pediatricians now warn, is actually terrible news for our health, weight, fertility and even mood.
Last month, a major US pediatricians’ group was urging families to limit the use of plastic food containers, cut down on processed meat during pregnancy and consume more whole fruits and vegetables rather than processed food.
Such measures, argues the American Academy of Pediatrics, would lower children’s exposures to chemicals in food and food packaging that are tied to health problems such as obesity, the group says.
The group joins other medical and advocacy groups that have expressed concern about the growing body of scientific evidence indicating that certain chemicals that enter foods may interfere with the body’s natural hormones in ways that may affect long-term growth and development.
The new report, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, said that parents should avoid heating up food in plastic containers because the chemicals released can be harmful to children. The report looked at research into chemicals used to treat packaging for food products, like BPA, which is used in resin coatings that prevent metal corrosion, and chemicals called PFC's that are used to waterproof paper or cardboard.
BPA can disrupt hormones in the body and cause fertility problems, according to the report, and PFCs can reduce immunity, metabolism, and cause developmental problems. The report also reviewed studies that found that decreased intake of food coloring could be associated with improved symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD, but there isn't enough evidence in that research to show a definite connection between the two.
According to the New York Times, the pediatricians’ group is now calling for more rigorous testing and regulation of thousands of chemicals used as food additives or indirectly added to foods when they are used in manufacturing or leach from packaging and plastics.
Among the chemicals that raised particular concern are nitrates and nitrites, which are used as preservatives, primarily in meat products; phthalates, which are used to make plastic packaging; and bisphenols, used in the lining of metal cans for canned food products. Also of concern to the pediatricians are perfluoroalkyl chemicals, or PFCs, used in grease-proof paper and packaging, and perchlorates, an antistatic agent used in plastic packaging.
The good news is there are safe and simple steps people can take right now to limit exposures, and they don’t have to break the bank,” said Dr. Leonardo Trasande, the lead author of the statement and chief of the division of environmental pediatrics at New York University’s School of Medicine.
“Avoiding canned food is a great way to reduce your bisphenol exposure in general, and avoiding packaged and processed food is a good way to avoid phthalates exposures,” Dr. Trasande said. He also suggested wrapping foods in wax paper in lieu of plastic wrap.
Are YOU avoiding using plastic in your home, parents? How easy is it to find alternatives? Do they work as well? Let us know in the comments or tweet us at @Herfamilydotie