Opinion

Avoid dangerous plastic products

Theodore Duris’ letter of April 30 regarding carcinogens in consumer products prompted me to write my own. The issues he raises and the questions he raises are thought provoking.

Getting a diagnosis of colon cancer encouraged me to become more aware of the carcinogens in our environment, but what really set me off on my journey of change was the media coverage of the plastic baby bottle issue. When I Googled “carcinogens in plastic,” I was amazed at the amount of information out there. I found it difficult to sort through it all and try to determine what is reliable and what isn’t. But I waded through a lot of it. Consumeraffairs.com was the most informative.

The more I learned, the more I realized that the chemical in most plastic baby bottles (bisphenol A or BPA) is just one of many chemicals in plastics and other consumer products causing concern. BPA is found in many other places besides baby bottles. For example, the epoxy resins lining many, if not most, of our canned goods, contain BPA. The concern is that BPA leaches into the contents of canned goods and into the food and water held in plastic containers.

In my efforts to decrease the impact of potential carcinogens on my internal environment, I made the following changes:

I avoid eating canned food when I can get fresh or frozen.

I try to avoid buying any “wet” food in plastic. I look for glass, although I have yet to find ketchup in a glass bottle.

I stopped drinking bottled water.

No more Teflon. I use my old iron skillets and stainless steel.

I store all “wet” food in glass containers.

I no longer eat microwave popcorn.

I use plastic food wrap, but sparingly.

I’ve been asked, “Doesn’t it cost you more money to make these changes?” It does.

And there’s the, “Aren’t you going a little over the top with this?” Probably. Who knows?

Mr. Duris asks, “Are we really concerned about health issues, or are we letting money do the talking for us?”

If by “we” he means corporate America, then the answer is obvious. Money talks. And corporate money and interests talk the loudest. Banning BPA in our country would mean taking on the chemical industry- a force to be reckoned with. It would cost a lot of money to implement a manufacturing process that did not include BPA. That would cut into profits.

Canada recently banned BPA in toys, baby bottles and other food containers. The Canadian government is on the move with this issue. No more BPA in “sippy cups,” pacifiers, teething rings, water bottles. We can only hope U.S. retailers will follow Canada’s cue and do the same. Wal-Mart has declared that starting next year in U.S. stores, it will stop selling baby bottles made with BPA. But will our government take on the chemical industry and ban this chemical?

There are those who predict we will see much higher rates of cancer at earlier ages in our young people coming of age. Of all the information I’ve encountered, that possibility saddens me the most.

In 1967, there was a lot of hoopla about a line from “The Graduate.” Dustin Hoffman’s character is given one word of advice about his future: “Plastics.” At 17, I didn’t understand the significance. At 57, I wish I didn’t.

Barbara Sheffield

lives in Oak Harbor.

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