The Plastic – Chronic Illness Link

Plastics have become ubiquitous in our environment and our body. If it’s not already obvious from the plastics in our oceans and at our dumps just take a look at your grocery store. Take a look around your home.

In fact, as I was finishing up some research on this I had a terrible realization that I’ve let plastics into my home in such small pieces that I hadn’t realized the amount I’ve been accumulating. Some of these things were gifts, some of these my husband bought and I admit, I buy shampoo and eco friendly cleaners in plastic containers.  I’m a little embarrassed honestly but I’m so happy to be giving myself this kick in the butt to get back on track.

In this post and video, I’ll be covering Phthalates and BPA/BPS.

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Phthalates are a plasticizer designed to make plastics more flexible. They are also used as dissolving agents. They are used in hundreds of products, such as vinyl flooring, adhesives, detergents, lubricating oils, automotive plastics, plastic clothes (raincoats which is a biggie here in the Pac NW), and personal-care products (soaps, shampoos, hair sprays, and nail polishes). Phthalates are used widely in polyvinyl chloride plastics (PVC), which are used to make products such as plastic packaging film and sheets, garden hoses, inflatable toys, blood-storage containers, medical tubing, and some children’s toys.

We’re exposed to these chemicals mostly through ingesting food or beverages that have been stored in plastic containers. This is especially the case for meat and dairy products and fast foods.

We’re also exposed to phthalates through personal care products like shampoos, conditioners and lotions.

Sometimes though we inhale this through dust particles that have attracted phthalates.  If you recall in my air quality post, dust particles are like magnets for chemicals. 

In medicine, phthalates are used in IV tubing and bags and increase chemical loads in patients including babies in neonatal care. 

These are converted into phthalate metabolites in the body and should be eliminated through the urine. 

In the Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals (Fourth Report), CDC scientists measured 13 phthalate metabolites in the urine of 2,636 or more participants aged six years and older who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) during 2003–2004. 

  • CDC researchers found measurable levels of phthalate metabolites in the general population. This finding indicates that phthalate exposure is widespread in the U.S. population.
  • Research has found that adult women have higher levels of urinary metabolites than men for those phthalates that are used in soaps, body washes, shampoos, cosmetics, and similar personal care products.

It should be noted that there are a number of forms of phthalates used depending on purpose. There’s a family of them, each having different effects on our body.

So what are the health impacts of this exposure?

Not to get into detail about which type has a specific effect but here are the cumulative effects of this family of chemicals

  • Cancer
  • Reproductive development disorders
  • Hormone disrupting
  • Endocrine disrupting
  • Skin rashes
  • Endometriosis
  • Vomiting and nausea

BPA and BPS The Plastic- Chronic Disease link

BPA and the lesser known BPS, which is used as a replacement for BPA in BPA free products, are both endocrine disrupting. They mimics estradiol in the body, that is the “bad estrogen”, and when too high can contribute to breast cancer development. 

Exposure to BPA is a concern because of possible health effects of BPA on the brain and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children. It can also affect children’s behavior. 

BPA has also been linked to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Where do we find BPA and BPS?

  • Receipts! –  accounts for 88% of human exposure to BPS
  • Thermal tickets
  • Plastic containers for storage
  • Plastic deli containers
  • Plastic water bottles 
  • Plastic hard reusable water bottles
  • Mailing envelopes
  • Airplane boarding passes
  • Luggage tags
  • Tin cans 
  • Soda and beer cans
  • Food wrap
  • Plastic bags
  • Baby bottle components (like nipple and ring)
  • Fast food – burgers and beverage containers
  • Plastic plates
  • Tissue and toilet paper with recycled content and wrapped in plastic
  • Squeezie snacks

So, how can you reduce your exposure to Phthalates, BPA and BPS?

  • Just say no to receipts and wash your hands directly after touching them
  • Never eat warm deli foods stored in plastic 
  • Use a reusable stainless steel or glass cup to go beverages
  • Use a reusable stainless steel or glass bottle for water
  • Don’t eat out at fast food restaurants
  • Use bees wax cloths or reusable bags for snacks, sandwiches or food storage
  • Use glass containers for food storage – preferably one with a glass lid
  • Buy beverages in glass instead of plastic bottles
  • Use cloth napkins 
  • Use handkerchiefs instead of tissue
  • Use microfiber or other cloth for wiping up in place of toilet paper
  • Look for baby bottles using natural rubber or silicon components
  • Look for personal care products that are free from Phthalates and come in glass containers – I love RMS beauty for makeup and Amossoma for skin care
  • Use natural bar soaps 
  • Use glass hand soap pumps 
  • Buy soups, tomatoes broths in glass jars instead of cans or boxes
  • Buy juices and milk in glass containers

How can you detox from Phthalates and BPS/BPAs?

  1. Reduce your exposure (see above)
  2. Take calcium D-glucarate
  3. Eat lots of cruciferous veggies
  4. Take a Far infrared sauna to sweat it out

Finally, I’d like to leave you with this thought.  Moving away from all things plastic and piles of receipts is on your table is beautiful. There’s something elegant about living with cloth napkins and handkerchiefs, real plates and glasses for meals. I also think that using a beautiful non branded stainless steel or glass to go mug and beautiful glass water bottles beats take away cups and plastic bottles any day. 

On a budget?  Mason jars now have adaptors for nearly any purpose from food storage to to-go mugs and soap dispensers.  You can also make your own cloth napkins and handkerchiefs with fabric scraps. 

There are so many ways to reduce your plastic exposure, I’d love to see what you come up with.  Follow me on Facebook or Instagram and share what you try. 

To learn more about ways you can balance your body, join my 5 Day Summer Detox for Beginners. This program starts on August 17th but registration closes on the 15th. Hope to see you there! 

Disclaimer: This article is provided for educational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat any diseases.



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