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In search of safe plastics

Monday, November 10, 2008

thermalmug.jpg Following the inspiring example of Enviroblog’s Lisa Frack and her journey into post-plastic world, I started to wonder: what other convenient and ubiquitous uses of plastic in our lives act as a source of exposure to invisible, and yet very potent toxic chemicals. And the answer was not very far away as I opened my email on Friday morning and read the news of latest research on plastic safety - or, to be precise, lack of it.

On November 7, University of Alberta scientists reported in the journal Science that two chemicals leaking from plastic laboratory equipment were so biologically active they interfered with the function of a human brain protein and ruined a drug experiment. This finding has an uncanny resemblance to one of the early discoveries of Bisphenol A toxicity where BPA leaching from polycarbonate plastics stimulated the growth of breast cancer cells. The two substances found to leach from polypropylene labware - an antimicrobial chemical known as quaternary ammonium and a plastic softening agent called oleamide - now join the ranks of numerous other plastic polymer components that migrate into anything stored in these plastic containers.


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