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Our poorly managed plastic system

Friday, June 20, 2008

baby and rubber duckThe U.S. government should require labeling and warning systems for products containing bisphenol A (BPA) and the phthalate DEHP, according to researchers at the nonprofit Environment and Human Health inc. (EHHI).

EHHI points out that production of BPA and DEHP (used in the production of PVC plastic) has increased since the '90s, and so has our scientific understanding of endocrine disruption. Meanwhile, our systems for recycling polycarbonate and PVC plastic haven't gotten any better. We've got enough data to demonstrate the negative health effects, so why isn't the government doing anything about it?

Amongst EHHI's recommendations are a ban on BPA and DEHP in products intended for children 3 and under (note: this recommendation wouldn't address canned food. EWG supports an outright ban on BPA). They also recommend creating a meaningful code and labeling system for all plastics. The recycling code wasn't meant to tell consumers what ingredients are in their plastic, but that's exactly the kind of system we need. In addition, EHHI argues, the government should warn pregnant women or women who may become pregnant to avoid exposure to BPA and DEHP. Of course, since we're all supposed to think of ourselves as pre-pregnant, that would require women to avoid DEHP and BPA for their entire productive lives. Cut out half of the users of these plastics, and you may as well cut out the plastics altogether.

Photo by ~David.