Chemical Plastic

July 26, 2010

Sailing on boat made of plastic bottles

Filed under: Plastic Market News — Administrator @ 8:00 am

see, I am beautiful with the flowing of sweet breeze.

     As is known to all, plastic pollution has influenced our life for a long time, and cause so much suffering to our daily life, in order to change this situation, some people which is strongly against plastic pollution will do something to cause public’s attention towards plastic pollution.

    A boat made out of 12,500 recycled plastic bottles sailed into Sydney Harbour on Monday, four months after it set out from San Francisco on a journey across the Pacific Ocean meant to raise awareness about the perils of plastic waste.

The crew of the Plastiki, a 60-foot (18.2 meter) catamaran that weathered fierce ocean storms during its 8,000 nautical miles at sea, left San Francisco on March 20, stopping along the way at various South Pacific island nations including Kiribati and Samoa.

 ”This is culmination of four years planning, so it’s a very exciting day,” Plastiki spokeswoman Kim McKay said.

The boat, skippered by environmentalist David de Rothschild – a descendant of the well-known British banking family – was being towed to the Australian National Maritime Museum for a welcome ceremony.

“We hope that Sydneysiders will turn out in force to help us celebrate,” de Rothschild said in a statement.

The six-member crew lived in a cabin of just 20 feet by 15 feet (6 meters by 4.5 meters), took saltwater showers, and survived on a diet of dehydrated and canned food, supplemented with the occasional vegetable from their small on-board garden. The boat is fully recyclable, and is powered in part by solar panels and windmills.

The Plastiki’s name is a play on the 1947 Kon-Tiki raft sailed across the Pacific by explorer Thor Heyerdahl.

The crew briefly stopped in Queensland state last week, after battling a brutal storm off the Australian coast.

De Rothschild said the idea for the journey came to him after he read a United Nations report that said pollution – and particularly plastic waste – was seriously threatening the world’s oceans .

Will this activity cause public’s attention towards plastic pollution? who know? I hope it will.

July 23, 2010

Filed under: Chemical Related Story — Administrator @ 6:56 am

Nowadays with the rapid development of technology, people are becoming more and more concerned about their appearance. In that way, the cosmetic surgery is ever increasing due to people’s attitude towards beauty. As is known to all, beauty can be divided into inner beauty and outer beauty, which is the real beauty which we should regard? It is hard to tell. But there is a phenomenon which people is more interested in becoming an outer beautiful woman or man.

      Since people are interested in doing cosmetic surgery, let us talk something about that.

How can I determine if a plastic surgeon is right for me?

A visit to the plastic surgeon gives you an opportunity to meet them, where you can gauge their personality and behavior. It’s always good if you feel comfortable and relaxed around them. The visit also is important for evaluating their credentials and experience. It is important that they are Board Certified plastic surgeons, meaning that the American Board of Plastic Surgery has accredited them. This ensures that they have undergone all the rigorous education and training to be a plastic surgeon in the United States. Most plastic surgeons will have before and after pictures of their patients that you can view. This allows you to assess the quality of their work.

The following are some recommended questions to ask the plastic surgeon during the initial consultation appointment:

  • How many procedures of this type have you performed?
  • How long will the procedure take?
  • What are the common risks associated with the procedure?
  • How long is the average recovery time for this procedure?
  • Where will you perform the surgery?
  • What is the total cost of the procedure?
  • What is your policy on surgical revisions?

Does plastic surgery hurt ?

Filed under: Chemical Related Story — Administrator @ 6:32 am

Plastic surgery is a medical specialty concerned with the correction or restoration of form and function. While famous for aesthetic surgery, plastic surgery also includes many types of reconstructive surgery, hand surgery, microsurgery, and the treatment of burns. The word “plastic” derives from the Greek plastikos meaning to mould or to shape; its use here is not connected with the synthetic polymer material known as plastic.

In plastic surgery, the transfer of skin tissue is a very common procedure. Usually, good results are expected from plastic surgery that emphasizes careful planning of incisions so that they fall in the line of natural skin folds or lines, appropriate choice of wound closure, use of best available suture materials, and early removal of exposed sutures so that the wound is held closed by buried sutures.

With increased media attention on beauty and perfection, celebrities and those alike are turning to plastic surgery more and more. For those who are not living on the salary of a celebrity, they are taking out loans to achieve their plastic perfection summing up to approximately $83,000 for 14 surgeries.

Though media and advertising do play a large role in influencing many people’s lives, researchers believe that plastic surgery obsession is linked to psychological disorders. Body dysmorphic disorder is seen as playing a large role in the lives of those who are obsessed with going under the knife in order to achieve physical perfection. People with this disorder are so preoccupied with their looks that it takes over their lives.

For those whose doctors refuse to perform any further surgeries, they are turning to “do it yourself” plastic surgery, injecting themselves in their home, running extreme safety risks. but does plastic surgery hurt?This will depend on the type of surgery and the patient. Generally speaking, non-surgical plastic surgery procedures will not cause a great deal of pain. For surgical procedures, these will be invasive and thus appropriate precautions are taken to ensure the highest level of safety and minimal discomfort during and after the procedure. These procedures will typically use anesthetics and sedatives so you won’t feel a thing during the operation. Where it hurts, is usually during the recovery period, and only then any pain or discomfort will be temporary until you are fully recovered. Plastic surgeons will give you strict orders to reduce your activity level to ensure that healing progresses at a fast rate. Painkillers can be prescribed or purchased to reduce any pain or discomfort.

July 21, 2010

Paper or plastic bags?

Filed under: Chemical Related Story — Administrator @ 7:12 am

It’s an old question, and still in debate, when it is time to check out when we are doing grocery shopping: paper bag or plastic bag? It seems like it should be an easy choice, but there’s an incredible number of details and inputs hidden in each bag. From durability and reusability to life cycle costs, there’s a lot more to each bag than meet the eye. Let’s figure it out behind each bags.
   Paper is made from trees. The logging industry is huge, and the process to get that paper bag to the grocery store is long, sordid and exacts a heavy toll on the planet. First, the trees are found, marked and felled in a process that all too often involves clear-cutting, resulting in massive habitat destruction and long-term ecological damage.

Once the trees are collected, they must dry at least three years before they can be used. More machinery is used to strip the bark, which is then chipped into one-inch squares and cooked under tremendous heat and pressure. This wood stew is then “digested,” with a chemical mixture of limestone and acid, and after several hours of cooking, what was once wood becomes pulp. It takes approximately three tons of wood chips to make one ton of pulp.

The pulp is then washed and bleached; both stages require thousands of gallons of clean water. Coloring is added to more water, and is then combined in a ratio of 1 part pulp to 400 parts water, to make paper. The pulp/water mixture is dumped into a web of bronze wires, and the water showers through, leaving the pulp, which, in turn, is rolled into paper.

Unlike paper bags, plastic bags are typically made from oil, a non-renewable resource. Plastics are a by-product of the oil-refining process, accounting for about four percent of oil production around the globe. The biggest energy input is from the plastic bag creation process is electricity, which, in this country, comes from coal-burning power plants at least half of the time; the process requires enough juice to heat the oil up to 750 degrees Fahrenheit, where it can be separated into its various components and molded into polymers. Plastic bags most often come from one of the five types of polymers — polyethylene — in its low-density form (LDPE), which is also known as #4 plastic.

l        A look at the facts and numbers
Further insight into the implications of using and recycling each kind of bag can be gained from looking at overall energy, emissions, and other life cycle-related costs of production and recycling. According to a life cycle analysis by Franklin Associates, Ltd, plastic bags create fewer airborne emissions and require less energy during the life cycle of both types of bags per 10,000 equivalent uses — plastic creates 9.1 cubic pounds of solid waste vs. 45.8 cubic pounds for paper; plastic creates 17.9 pounds of atmospheric emissions vs. 64.2 pounds for paper; plastic creates 1.8 pounds of waterborne waste vs. 31.2 pounds for paper.

Paper bags can hold more stuff per bag — anywhere from 50 percent to 400 percent more, depending on how they’re packed, since they hold more volume and are sturdier. The numbers here assume that each paper bag holds 50 percent more than each plastic bag, meaning that it takes one and half plastic bags to equal a paper bag — it’s not a one-to-one comparison, even though plastic still comes out ahead.

It’s important to note that all of the above numbers assume that none of the bags are recycled, which adds a lot of negative impacts for both the paper and plastic bags; the numbers decrease in size (and the relative impacts decrease) as more bags are recycled. Interestingly, the numbers for paper bag recycling get better faster — the more that are recycled, the lower their overall environmental impact — but, because plastic bags use much less to begin with, they still ends up creating less solid and waterborne waste and airborne emissions.

l        Paper and plastic bags’ required energy inputs
From the same analysis, we learn that plastic also has lower energy requirements — these numbers are expressed in millions of British thermal units (Btus) per 10,000 bags, again at 1.5 plastic bags for every one paper bag. Plastic bags require 9.7 million Btus, vs. 16.3 for paper bags at zero percent recycling; even at 100% recycling rates, plastic bags still require less — 7.0 to paper’s 9.1. What does that mean to me and you? Plastic bags just take less energy to create, which is significant because so much of our energy comes from dirty sources like coal and petroleum.

Both paper and plastic bags require lots and lots of resources and energy, and proper recycling requires due diligence from both consumer and municipal waste collector or private recycling company, so there are a lot of variables that can lead to low recycling rates.

Ultimately, neither paper nor plastic bags are the best choice; we think choosing reusable canvas bags instead is the way to go. From an energy standpoint, according to this Australian study, canvas bags are 14 times better than plastic bags and 39 times better than paper bags, assuming that canvas bags get a good workout and are used 500 times during their life cycle.

paper plastic history

Filed under: Chemical Related Story — Administrator @ 6:07 am

In 1852 Francis Wolle patented in the United States, and later in France and England, a machine that he devised for making paper bags. It was the first of its kind, and covers the fundamental principle of the many similar machines that are now used. Paper bag is used for holding customer’s purchases. Allowing customer to purchase and carry more products

Here are milestone of paper bags:

1869 Francis Wolle and his brother and other paper bag makers found Union Paper Bag Machine Company.
1870 Margret Knight invents a device to cut, fold and paste paper bag bottoms, Margaret Knight of Boston is credited with about 90 inventions and 22 patents. Her patents covered textile and shoe-making machinery, domestic devices, and even a “sleeve-valve” automobile engine. Knight’s greatest success, however, was the first machine to make the square-bottomed paper bags. Others had been trying to develop such a machine for years, since the envelope-shaped bags then used were narrow and flimsy.
About two years after the Civil War she went to work for the Columbia Paper Bag Company in Springfield, Massachusetts. While in the factory, she invented a device to cut, fold and paste bag bottoms. Initially her employer complained about the time she spent on the device. When she suggested she might consider selling the rights to him if it worked, he gave in. After doing thousands of trial bags on a wooden machine, she had an iron model produced in Boston.

However, before she could place the patent application, she found a man named Charles Annan who had studied her machine while visiting the factory was attempting to a patent machine suspiciously similar to her own. Knight, 33 at the time, filed a patent interference suit against Annan. She played to win, spending $100 a day plus expenses for 16 days of depositions of herself and other key Boston witnesses. Annan claimed that because Knight was a woman she could not possibly understand the mechanical complexities of the machine. Due to her careful notes, diary entries, samples and expertise the court ruled in her favor.
The paper bag-folding machine was not Knight’s only invention. Besides devices that improved her paper bag machine, her other inventions included a new window frame and sash design, a numbering machine, an automatic boring tool, and a spinning or sewing machine. The total number of her inventions is generally thought to be eighty-nine. They earned her a good deal of money, but when she died in 1914 her fortune had dwindled down to a mere $300.
1872 132,890 (US) issued November 12, 1872 to Charles Annan for paper bag machine
1883 Charles Stilwell awarded patent for making Square-Bottom Paper Bag w/ pleated sides
1890 William Purvis on August 19, 1890 for a paper-bag machine, the combination of two suction-formers having perforated surfaces, between which the ends of the paper tube are fed, and provided with two independent grooves arranged at different positions of the length of the formers and out of line with each other. He later licensed the paper bag invention to Union Paper Bag Co, of New York.

plastic bag has a long history

Filed under: Plastic Imp. & Exp. — Administrator @ 5:49 am

Plastic Bags are everywhere. Plastic bags are synonymous with shopping.  Stores give out over a billion plastic bags per day to customers all over the world.  It is estimated that between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed a year! These bags have many benefits; however, they also do a huge amount of environmental damage.

The First Man-Made Plastic – Parkesine

The first man-made plastic was created by Alexander Parkes who publicly demonstrated it at the 1862 Great International Exhibition in London. The material called Parkesine was an organic material derived from cellulose that once heated could be molded, and retained its shape when cooled.

Celluloid

Celluloid is derived from cellulose and alcoholized camphor. John Wesley Hyatt invented celluloid as a substitute for the ivory in billiard balls in 1868. He first tried using collodion a natural substance, after spilling a bottle of it and discovering that the material dried into a tough and flexible film. However, the material was not strong enough to be used as a billiard ball, until the addition of camphor, a derivative of the laurel tree. The new celluloid could be molded with heat and pressure into a durable shape.

Besides billiard balls, celluloid became famous as the first flexible photographic film used for still photography and motion pictures. John Wesley Hyatt created celluloid in a strip format for movie film. By 1900, movie film was an exploding market for celluloid.

After cellulose nitrate, formaldehyde was the next product to advance the technology of plastic. Around 1897, efforts to manufacture white chalkboards led to casein plastics (milk protein mixed with formaldehyde).

The following are the contemporary history of plastic bags:

1957 The first baggies and sandwich bags on a roll are introduced.

1958 Poly dry cleaning bags compete with traditional brown paper.
1966 Plastic bag use in bread packaging takes over 25 to 30 percent of the market.

1966 Plastic produce bags on a roll are introduced in grocery stores.

1969 The New York City Sanitation Department’s “New York City Experiment” demonstrates that plastic refuse bag curbside pickup is cleaner, safer and quieter than metal trash can pick-up, beginning a shift to plastic can liners among consumers.

1974/75 Retailing giants such as Sears, J.C. Penney, Montgomery Ward, Jordan Marsh, Allied, Federated and Hills make the switch to plastic merchandise bags.

1973 The first commercial system for manufacturing plastic grocery bags becomes operational

1977 The plastic grocery bag is introduced to the supermarket industry as an alternative to paper sacks.

1982 Kroger and Safeway start to replace traditional craft sacks with polyethylene “t-shirt” bags.
1990 The first blue bag recycling program begins with curbside collection.

1990 Consumer plastic bag recycling begins through a supermarket collection-site network.

1992 Nearly half of U.S. supermarkets have recycling available for plastic bags.

1996 Four of five grocery bags used are plastic.

July 20, 2010

Chemical in plastic bottles causes safety problem

Filed under: Chemical Plastic Research — Administrator @ 2:13 am

The report was greeted by some environmental groups as confirmation of their concerns, while chemical makers latched on to the report’s preliminary nature and its authors’ warning against drawing overly worrisome conclusions.

The federal National Toxicology Program said Tuesday that experiments on rats found precancerous tumors, urinary tract problems and early puberty when the animals were fed or injected with low doses of the plastics chemical bisphenol A.

While such animal studies only provide “limited evidence” of bisphenol’s developmental risks, the group’s draft report stresses the possible effects on humans “cannot be dismissed.” The group is made up of scientists from the Centers for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration and the Institutes of Health.

More than 90 percent of Americans are exposed to trace amounts of bisphenol, according to the CDC. The chemical leaches out of water bottles, the lining of cans and other items made with it.

The American Chemistry Council, which represents manufacturers, said the report “affirms that there are no serious or high level concerns for adverse effects of bisphenol on human reproduction and development.” Among the manufacturers of bisphenol are Dow Chemical Co. and BASF Group.

The group said it supports additional research to determine whether adverse effects seen in animals “are of any significance to human health.”

Environmentalists, meanwhile, hailed the report as the first step toward reassessing a chemical they believe could contribute to cancer and other health problems.

“We’re hoping this decision will force FDA to recognize the toxicity of this chemical and make manufacturers set a safety standard that’s protective of the most vulnerable populations,” said Dr. Anila Jacob of the Environmental Working Group.

The toxicology group’s findings echo those of researchers assembled by the National Institutes of Health, who last August called for more research on bisphenol in humans.

The FDA in November said there is “no reason at this time to ban or otherwise restrict its use.” The agency on Tuesday did not immediately have any comment about the new report.

But growing concern about the chemical has pushed many consumers toward glass alternatives, and triggered investigations by state and federal lawmakers.

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., called on FDA Tuesday to reconsider the safety of bisphenol, saying the toxicology report’s findings “fly in the face of the FDA’s determination.”

Dingell, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, issued letters to seven companies that make baby formulations earlier this year, questioning whether they use bisphenol in the lining of their cans and bottles.

The companies included Hain Celestial Group, Nestle USA and Abbott Laboratories.

A spokeswoman for the International Formula Council, which represents baby food makers, said Tuesday “the overwhelming scientific evidence supports the safety” of bisphenol, adding that no foreign governments have restricted or banned its use.

The National Toxicology Program will take public comments on its initial report through May. A final version will be issued this summer.

Earlier this month state lawmakers in New Jersey passed a bill that would ban the sale of all products containing bisphenol.

Canada’s health agency is also examining the health risks of bisphenol is expected to issue its findings in coming days

The health effects of BPA is still in investigation

Filed under: Chemical Plastic Research — Administrator @ 1:44 am

On Friday, the government of Canada said it would begin a 60-day public comment period on whether to ban baby bottles containing bisphenol A. And water bottle manufacturer Nalgene announced April 18 it would phase out use of BPA in its containers in response to public concern about the chemical. The NTP report focuses primarily on the possible reproductive and developmental effects of BPA (such as changes in fertility, birth weight, and the development of certain brain regions), not on cancer. However it does note that in some animal studies, BPA has shown effects on breast and prostate tissue, as well as on how early puberty occurs. These effects could be linked to cancer, the report says, but the authors caution that there is not enough evidence to know whether BPA causes cancer — in animals or in people. The health effects of BPA are being studied because so many people are exposed to it on a daily basis. The chemical is widely used in plastic water and baby bottles, food packaging, compact discs, and other consumer products; plastics made with BPA usually have the number 7 on the bottom. One survey conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention detected BPA in the urine of 93% of people age 6 years and older. Most Studies in Animals, Not People The effects on breast and prostate tissue were seen in baby rats. When pregnant rats were injected with BPA, their female pups showed breast tissue changes that some researchers suspected might eventually progress to breast cancer, and male pups showed prostate tissue changes that researchers thought might eventually lead to prostate cancer. Some studies also showed that female mice entered puberty earlier than normal. In humans, early puberty is linked to higher breast cancer risk. However, the report is careful to explain that these animal results are difficult to apply to humans. For one thing, the studies did not follow the pups long enough to see whether cancer actually developed. Another problem is that while people are primarily exposed to BPA through their diet, the rats and some of the mice were injected with BPA (some mice got oral doses). The different methods of exposure may affect how the body processes the chemical — and therefore how BPA affects the body. The report concludes that there is “some concern” about the adverse health effects of BPA in fetuses, infants and children. “Some concern” is the third level on a scale of 5; “negligible concern” is the lowest level, while “serious concern” is highest. Even though the evidence isn’t conclusive about BPA’s link to cancer or other problems, Michael Thun, the American Cancer Society’s vice president of Epidemiology and Surveillance Research, says limiting exposure is “prudent.” For those who are concerned about BPA exposure, the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences recommends these steps: ? Don’t microwave polycarbonate plastic food containers. Polycarbonate is strong and durable, but over time it may break down from over use at high temperatures. ? Polycarbonate containers that contain BPA usually have a #7 on the bottom. ? Reduce your use of canned foods. ? When possible, opt for glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers, particularly for hot food or liquids. ? Use baby bottles that are BPA free.

Investigation on harm of BPA towards human body

Filed under: Plastic Market News — Administrator @ 1:21 am

Bisphenol A (BPA), a compound in hard, clear polycarbonate plastics, is getting official scrutiny—and things are looking less than rosy for the controversial chemical. The U.S. government’s National Toxicology Program yesterday agreed with a scientific panel that recently expressed concern about physiological changes that occur in people when they ingest BPA that has leached from plastics into their food. The Canadian government is even considering declaring the chemical toxic. This could set the stage for banning it from plastic baby bottles, water bottles, and food containers. At the very least, some people will be even more eager to buy foods and beverages in BPA-free containers.

BPA has raised concerns because it appears to mimic the effects of estrogen, interfering with hormone levels and cell signaling systems. Previous studies have shown that people exposed to high levels of BPA have a greater risk of developing uterine fibroids, breast cancer, decreased sperm counts, and prostate cancer. Babies and children are thought to be at greatest risk from the exposure. In fact, the scientific evidence warrants “a higher level of concern than those expressed by the expert [scientific] panel for possible effects of bisphenol A on prostate gland, mammary gland and early onset of puberty in exposed fetuses, infants and children,” the NTP report concludes.

Not surprisingly, sales of BPA-free baby bottles spiked after yesterday’s news. “We tripled our sales overnight on the website and will be shipping an additional 300,000 bottles to Canada this week to meet an increased demand,” says Ron Vigdor, president of BornFree, which manufactures BPA-free bottles. He adds that Babies “R” Us also indicated that it would be increasing its order to U.S. stores.

Beyond switching baby bottles, another way to lower exposure to BPA is to avoid heating foods and liquids in plastic containers that contain the compound. The amount of BPA that leaches out, the NTP says, may depend more on the temperature of the liquid, food, or container itself than on the age of the plastic bottle or dish. So when it comes to Bisphenol A (BPA) exposure from polycarbonate plastic bottles, it’s not whether the container is new or old but the liquid’s temperature that has the most impact on how much BPA is released, according to University of Cincinnati (UC) scientists. Scott Belcher, PhD, and his team found when the same new and used polycarbonate drinking bottles were exposed to boiling hot water, BPA, an environmental estrogen, was released 55 times more rapidly than before exposure to hot water.

“Previous studies have shown that if you repeatedly scrub, dish-wash and boil polycarbonate baby bottles, they release BPA. That tells us that BPA can migrate from various polycarbonate plastics,” explains Belcher, UC associate professor of pharmacology and cell biophysics and corresponding study author. “But we wanted to know if ‘normal’ use caused increased release from something that we all use, and to identify what was the most important factor that impacts release.”

Belcher stresses that it is still unclear what level of BPA is harmful to humans. He urges consumers to think about how cumulative environmental exposures might harm their health.

“BPA is just one of many estrogen-like chemicals people are exposed to, and scientists are still trying to figure out how these endocrine disruptors–including natural phyto-estrogens from soy which are often considered healthy–collectively impact human health,” he says. “But a growing body of scientific evidence suggests it might be at the cost of your health.”

The UC team reports its findings in the Jan. 30, 2008 issue of the journal Toxicology Letters. UC graduate student Hoa Le and summer undergraduate research fellows Emily Carlson and Jason Chua also participated in this study, which was funded by a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences grant.

July 15, 2010

plastic chemical danger

Filed under: Chemical Plastic Research — Administrator @ 1:56 am

There’s a poignant scene in the film The Shawshank Redemption where an old prisoner is set free into a world that hardly resembles the one he left behind. Automobiles whiz past him as he tries to cross the street. His parole appointed job is at a fast paced market unlike any small town grocery store from his youth. It seems the whole world got in a great big hurry while he was away and he doesn’t like one bit. The speed of modern life is ever increasing. It’s hard to say how exactly this trend started. But it’s safe to say that at this point it’s driven primarily by consumer demand. A large enough segment of the population wants products and services that bring convenience home and streamline the many details that make up daily living.

In the 21st century, it’s hard to imagine a world in which plastic wouldn’t play a major role. After all, we drink from plastic bottles and wash our hair with shampoo that comes in similar looking containers. Our cars, phones, sunglasses and even the keyboards we type on are all made of this chemical compound. We are surrounded by plastic and what’s more, we’re happily hooked on it. That’s all good and well except for one thing: it may be harming us in unexpected ways. Today I’m going to focus on some recent findings on how chemicals in plastic may be altering the physiology and psychology of children throughout the world.

ADHD Linked to Phthalates

Phthalates are a variety of chemicals used to make plastic more flexible. They are commonly found in plastic wraps that are used to cover foods such as cheeses, meats and vegetables. But phthalates can also be present in cleaning items, personal care products, tubing and, most disturbingly, in toys. Many animal studies and some human studies have linked these specific elements to a variety of health conditions ranging from asthma to autism to birth defects to hormonal abnormalities and even obesity. Now, a new Korean trial has found a troubling association between phthalate concentrations and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children between the ages of 8-11. Urine tests were used to quantify the levels of this chemical in a group of 261 boys and girls. Those with the largest amounts of phthalates exhibited the most pronounced ADHD symptoms based on computerized tests and teacher reports that measured attention and impulsivity. The findings were described as presenting a “strong association between phthalate metabolites in urine and symptoms of ADHD”.

Boys Won’t Be Boys

A trial recently published in the International Journal of Andrology examined a proposed connection between elevated levels of phthalates in mothers’ prenatal urine and its subsequent affects on masculinity in preschool aged boys. A total of 145 children (aged 3.5 – 6.5) were included in this examination. Mothers who had higher prenatal levels of two phthalate metabolites (DBP and DEHP) generally had sons who exhibited less “male-typical behavior” such as fighting/”horsing around” and playing with trucks. The lead researcher of the study, Dr. Shanna H. Swan, theorized that phthalates may affect testosterone levels during a critical stage of male development in which sexual identity is formed. Previous studies have demonstrated a so called “phthalate syndrome” in male animals and boys which manifests in abnormal genital development.

Bisphenol A and Aggression in Girls

Bisphenol A (BPA) is another hormone disrupting chemical generally found in hard plastic products such as baby and water bottles, canned food linings and medical tubes. A report in the December issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives raises alarm about the effect of BPA in young girls. The source of BPA in these developing children is once again believed to be related to either prenatal exposure or a common environmental source that both mother and child share. A group of scientists examined prenatal urine samples from 249 women and compared them to the behavioral patterns of their related children. The mothers with the highest concentrations of BPA were more likely to have girls who were more aggressive and hyperactive at the age of 2 as compared to mothers with lower levels of BPA. One of the researchers commented that “girls whose mothers had higher BPA exposure were more likely to act like boys than girls”.

Dr. Andrew Weil, a leader in the field of alternative and complementary medicine, offers some sage advice about how to lower BPA and phthalate exposure for adults and children alike in his Fall 2009 Healthy Eating Guide. Dr. Weil suggests: a) cooking and microwaving only in ceramic or glass containers; b) opting for BPA-free baby bottles and stainless steel water bottles; c) avoiding the use of plastic wrap and placing plastic-wrapped market items in more suitable containers (glass) once at home and; d) choosing packaged foods and oils in glass bottles rather than plastic bottles or lined cans.

There’s no turning back the clock or putting the genie back in its lamp. Plastic is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. But we do have options about how and when you we choose to use it. A good place to begin your plastic transformation is at home. Avoiding BPA and phthalates outside of your abode can be more challenging. When you’re out and about, the key is to simply make the best choices that are available to you. Another way to promote change in this arena is to purchase products that specifically avoid the use of such questionable chemicals. You’ll often find that manufacturers will mention this on product labels or in the accompanying literature because it can be a selling point to informed consumers. In the same way that we the people have demanded a more convenient and speedier world, we too can demand a safer place for our current and future generations.

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