Some Knowledge

Some possibly useful information.

Toxic Plastic Containers

with 9 comments

Modern plastic products come embossed with a recycling number.  This is a number between 1 and 7 which indicates the type of plastic used to manufacture the item.  It has generally been reported that numbers 3, 6, and 7 plastics have the potential to release toxic chemicals into any food product contained within them.

When you buy a container of some product it is a simple matter to turn the product upside down and read the number inside the triangle of arrows.  Numbers 1, 2, 4, and 5 are considered safe, as there has not been any chemical leaching detected from these materials.

Number 3 is polyvinyl chloride, or PVC.  PVC releases dioxins and can leach vinyl chloride and plasticizers in use.  These chemicals are potent carcinogens.  Number 6 is polystyrene, which can leach styrene, which has been shown to be a carcinogen and disrupts hormone levels.  Polycarbonate, which is number 7, is supposed to be the worst of these three.  It has been shown to leach bisphenol A, or BPA into hot liquids.  Most baby bottles are made out of number 7, and this could be a source of concern.  While bisphenol A has a low acute toxicity, there is concern about it because it mimics estrogen in the human body.  Studies of bisphenol A exposure in animals have shown links to breast and prostate cancer at levels very much below what the government considers safe.

To minimize any harmful effects from plastic containers, do not heat foods or liquids in plastic containers.  Look for the more inert plastics when you purchase items.  It might be advisable to purchase foods in glass, metal, or paper containers.  With most of the food sold today coming in plastic packaging it might be hard to find an alternative.  Still, with a bit of safe handling and remembering not to heat foods in these containers, any risk can be minimized.

Written by Bill

April 10, 2008 at 3:02 pm

Posted in diet, health, science

Tagged with , , ,

9 Responses

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  1. There really are not any safe plastics for storing any liquid that we drink. Pharmaceuticals in our drinking water and chemicals in bottled water are not new problems we have known about it for years. Help support the bottled water ban by visiting and spread the awareness. The more people know about the harmful things that bottled water does the better!


    April 11, 2008 at 11:30 am

    • Aren’t most houses now plumbed with PVC water pipes? I’ve started using alternative storage and drinking containers as much as possible. For my old favorites (bacon trays, etc., I line them with wax paper for cold storage. For microwaving, I use paper towels top and bottom. It’s a battle.


      February 23, 2012 at 11:27 am

  2. I looked at the bottom of the bottle I use for drinking water in the office, and sure enough, there’s a big ol’ number 7 there. Dang.

    Any tips on what to use for drinking water bottles instead of plastic? I’m not sure glass would be a good idea or not…

    Ben Overmyer

    April 14, 2008 at 3:34 pm

  3. Stainless steel water bottles are lightweight and generally toxin free. I have just started using them and the only issue is their temperature — when I put cold water inside to take on a hike, the container is rather chilly. Perhaps a cotton cover to make them easier to carry would be the answer…


    April 20, 2008 at 1:40 pm

  4. Thank you for good information~~*

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    I’m sorry , If you think this is spam. but may i thank you again.



    May 21, 2008 at 6:55 am

  5. i always wondered what those numbers were for. *sigh, i love using plastic containers too. well.. the bad ones are going to be used for non-food items from now on (like markers). thanks for the post!


    August 4, 2009 at 1:50 pm

  6. Sorry to drudge up an old post, but this is really fantastic information and I wanted to say thanks. I’m preparing for the arrival of my first child and was researching how I can tell which plastic products are safe for the home. Now I know, and I’m alarmed at the amount (and types) of products with a rating of 6+. Scary stuff!!


    November 26, 2010 at 1:48 am

  7. Valerie,

    Fantastic as in fantasy. No truth to the assertion regardiing toxic plastic.


    October 1, 2011 at 9:21 am

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