Saturday, August 18, 2007

Plastic Bad.

As many of you know I tend to have health nut leanings about some things. I am often quiet about my thoughts and discoveries, because I don't want anyone to feel as if I'm forcing my ideas, beliefs, etc. on them. However, sometimes I really feel as if I want to share what I have learned in case someone I'm sharing with has not heard or read about these things. Because some of these issues do, or can, affect us and our kids every day.

For years I've been against using plastics with food in my own home. That doesn't stop us from using plastic plates from time to time, and the girls have been using plastic sippy cups since they started drinking from cups. Not every kind of plastic has been shown to be dangerous when used with food, but I never felt good about giving them to my kids every day, because studies are pretty new even on the #7 plastics. I know that a lab cleaning accident-turned-study at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland showed that some plastics leach horribly and can have nasty long-term effects on the body. Since then there have been many reports on the subject, and even articles calling out certain baby bottle brands (Avent Natural Feeding 9 oz , Dr. Brown's Natural Flow 8 oz , Evenflo's Classic 8 oz , Gerber's Premium Feeding System 9 oz, Playtex's VentAire 9oz) and recommending against using them. (I cannot find a link to the actual study at Case Western, but here is an article to get you started if you want to read about the problems with some plastics: Grist)

My girls are too young to drink safely out of glasses, but when I first replaced my Lexan Nalgene (tm) bottles with metal Sigg (tm) bottles, I bought a very small Sigg bottle for Sweet Pea. Unfortunately, their most kid-friendly bottle top was a sports top, and at that time she could not figure out how to drink out of it. Now, however, at age 4, she thinks the Sigg (tm) bottles are the coolest, and has no problem drinking out of the sports top.

The Bug may be able to figure out the sports top in time but my sister just informed me that there is even a sippy option for her! Kleen Kanteen (tm) offers a small bottle with a sippy top. The sippy spout that they use appears to be an Avent sippy spout, which they claim is made out of safe, non-leaching plastic. I'm going to be ordering one of those for The Bug and I can't wait to clear most of the plastics out of our glasses cabinet in the kitchen. Even though the spouts for these bottles are plastic, the companies who sell them are aware of growing customer concern about plastics used with food, and they are using plastics that are, to current knowledge, the safest out there. And even if they turn out not to be as safe as we think, at least these bottles are metal and non-leaching. While the liquid has to travel through them, the spouts are small in comparison to the main "holding chambers" for the drinks.

There is one drawback to the metal bottles: Cost. They are significantly more expensive than the plastics. However, there is a safer plastic alternative of comparable cost to the usual plastic sippies - a company that makes both bottles and sippies out of plastic that does not contain Bisphenol A. They are called Born Free. Their website also includes links to many mainstream media reports about the dangers of Bisphenol A in baby bottles.

**Added note: I do not believe that any sippy cups are currently considered to be dangerous to kids - the baby bottles being listed as containing Bisphenol A and causing health problems are, to my knowledge, clear hard plastic. That is the kind of plastic that has been shown to leach yucky stuff into food. I think that the softer #5 (and possibly #4) plastics that most sippy cups are made out of are considered to be safe at this time. I'm just nervous that they will sooner or later be shown to contain some other dangerous substance, and that's why I want to replace some, if not all, of our kid & sippy cups with nonreactive alternatives.**

That is the end of today's PSA. Hee hee.

Good health to you and yours!


Christina said...

Thanks for the tips! It's sad that all of the things that are healthier for us are so much more expensive. It sucks that many people have to choose between being healthy or saving money.

It's always a tough choice for us, and we have to consciously decide what foods we buy organic, and which products we decide we can't make the switch to at the moment.

I've seen lists of safe and unsafe bottles, but nothing about which sippy cups are safe. Thanks for a few options!

Dana J. Tuszke said...

I read some articles about this and I was shocked. Just makes me mad!

In one of the parenting magazines, a doctor actually said, "Nothing to worry about, just limit your child's exposure to these bottles."

If it's nothing to worry about why are you warning us to limit exposure?

It's so maddening!

dlub said...

My concern here is that a lot of groceries also come wrapped in plastic containers or bags - meat, condiments, snacks, you name it.
I suspect that some of the leeching issues are related to re-use - leaving the fluid in the container for a long time, or placing it in a dishwasher where it's heated to higher-than-normal temperatures.

Alia never figured out sippy cups, but will drink out of those Nuby straw cups, because they function a lot like the sports bottle I drink from a lot. I used to leave water in there for a day or two --- no longer! I'm going to refill these from the fridge filtered water at least every morning.

Good point to bring up!