Plastics

Chemicals in plastics

Plastics are all around us and chemicals in plastics can pollute our water, our bodies, and even our fetuses. This is especially troubling since many every day products can easily expose us to harmful chemicals that leach from plastics, especially plastics used for food packaging or to use with our food and drinks. When you shop for food, you look at labels to make sure you know what you’re eating. But you have no way to know what’s in the plastics that your food and drinks are sold or stored in – even when some chemicals in plastics have been linked to serious health problems.

Recent years have seen a dramatic rise in the public’s awareness of health hazards posed by chemicals that can alter and wreak havoc on the body’s natural hormones. These substances, called endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), are found in many plastics.  Much attention has focused on the endocrine-disrupting chemical bisphenol A (BPA), which was once used as a synthetic estrogen and is now widely used in food plastics, canned food liners and other food packaging, medical and dental devices, and other products.

CEH is now initiating our work to investigate concerns around BPA and other chemicals in plastics, and to work with nonprofit and business partners on ways to improve food contact products so they are made without harmful chemicals. Look for more information and updates here as our work develops.

See our report on estrogenic activity in children’s “BPA-free” sippy cups.