What’s wrong with plastic?

Recently, many studies have shown that certain chemicals in plastic could be harmful to the human body.  A particularly concerning chemical is BPA, which is a chemical variant of estrogen.  In one study it was found that the ingestion of BPA was not harmful to reproduction and the reproductive system of Long-Evans rats, but it was severely harmful to reproduction and the reproductive system of CD-1 mice.  This is certainly concerning, but the question left unanswered is, “Are humans more like Long-Evans rats or CD-1 mice?”  In other studies it was concluded that there is a correlation between BPA levels in the blood and obesity, diabetes, miscarriages and cardiovascular problems.  Whether this correlation is dependent or independent we know not, but either way there seems to be some health risks associated with BPA.

Hormonal and reproductive problems are most likely developed during pregnancy and through adolescence.  This is when the body is developing and has relatively few hormones.  This is significant because it means that babies and little children could be at risk before they are even born or old enough to think for themselves.  However, it is much less likely that BPA has serious effects on post-adolescents.  Because BPA is a chemical variant of the hormone estrogen, a large increase of it could have serious adverse effects.  Some of the suspected effects of an increased BPA level are early puberty and feminization of male genitalia.  

Growing up I have always used plastic water bottles and I still do.  Because I am so used to them, it never occurred to me that they could have dangerous health issues associated with them.  Over the past couple years, we have seen a slight culture shift in this part of the country (and in this community especially) toward hard plastic water bottles like Nalgene, and now toward metal water bottles, because of the environmental harm that plastic water bottles can have.  I haven’t really been a part of this just because it has always been a lot easier to grab a plastic water bottle than to remember to fill up a canteen everyday, but now after realizing the environmental and health issues that they pose, switching to other sources of water transportation is a good idea for human health and nature.


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