Sunday, May 17, 2009

Plastic Coating from Food Wrappers found in Human Blood

The Discovery site reports some frightening news:

To the growing list of chemicals showing up in human blood, a new study adds compounds that make food wrappers grease-proof.

Called diPAPs, these chemicals are fairly new and scientists don't yet know if they are harmful to human health. But diPAPs break down into another worrisome chemical, called PFOA, which may be carcinogenic.

"The take-home message is that some chemicals that make our lives easier, better and more satisfying end up in our bloodstream with unknown toxicological consequences," said Scott Mabury, a chemist at the University of Toronto. "We should be smart enough to design chemicals that do what we want them to do without causing a chemical pollution problem."

The new study builds on accumulating and worrisome research into a class of compounds called perfluorochemicals. PFOA (perfuorooctanoic acid) is a major one. PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) is another.

PFOA and PFOS are resistant to oil and water, which makes them perfect for use as liners on carpets, nonstick pans, microwave popcorn bags, clothes, electronics and pizza boxes, among many other applications. The problem is that these compounds end up in the environment, our food and our bodies.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Toxic chemicals found in 3/4 of soft plastic toys in Canada

From The Ottawa Citizen:

Some toy manufacturers, including Hasbro and Mattel Inc., stopped using phthalates in their toy lines after the law changed in Europe. And more recently, retail giants Toys R Us, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Sears Canada have announced that their shelves in North America will not be stocked with toys containing phthalates in 2009.

But other toy manufacturers continue to use phthalates because alternatives are more costly. And they will be able to sell their products elsewhere in Canada after the U.S. market is closed to them in the new year.

In Canada, a proposal to ban phthalates is more narrow, and will not take effect any time soon. Consultations on a Health Canada proposal to ban one type of phthalate, known as DEHP, from products that young children commonly put in their mouths ended in September 2007, but the department has yet to publish draft regulations.

Harold Chizick, spokesman for the Canadian Toy Association, said the industry is "moving away" from phthalates, and will follow the rules established by Health Canada.

Monday, May 5, 2008

"Facts" on Plastic

It never ceases to amaze me, the monumental bald-face spin job the plastics industry tries to put on their miserable products.

They're ratcheting up the intensity of it, too, which is a red flag that desperation must be setting in. They've moved from "Isn't plastic wonderful?" to a serious damage-control mode. Here's but one example:

Who makes this blog? Why, the American Chemistry Council, of course. Which is a "trade organization" for chemical manufacturers, one that helps them put a positive PR spin on their toxic products.

Scroll down to my favorite entry, "Today Show Reverses 40 Years of Industry Science" . Read the flimsy arguments they give to feebly attempt to refute the statements of the NBC program. It pretty much amounts to "this study says it's safe, we believe it, that settles it" and of course, they choose to ignore the avalanche of studies that disagree with their own position. They also refute a certain website that NBC cited - but refuse to even acknowledge what that website is in their rebuttal! Clearly, they don't want you reading anything that disagrees with their view.

These people are liars, plain and simple. They have multi-billion dollar business interests and they will stop at nothing to protect that, no matter how many people have to die.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

"Not so fantastic plastic"

The British Daily Mail newspaper has a short but good piece about the dangers of plastic bottles here.

A letter to the editor of the Malay Mail newspaper tells of a 12-year-old girl who died from reusing the same plastic water bottle over and over. See here.

And the StarPhoenix has a feature article this week about plastic debris endangering the oceans. See it here. "Based on its surveys of the huge ocean current, the non-profit marine research group estimates that degraded plastic pieces in the central North Pacific outweigh surface zooplankton -- which plays a critical role in ocean food webs -- by a factor of six to one. In other words, for every single kilogram of zooplankton there are six kilograms of plastic."

Monday, February 18, 2008

War on Plastic Toys Escalates - In Slow Motion

Toys-R-Us has announced their intent to reduce PVC plastic toys in their stores. Well, whoopty-do.

So why am I not especially excited about this development?

Because it's merely a statement of intent. Anyone can announce good intentions. We all do it every January when we make New Year's resolutions. How's yours going so far?

It's being referred to as a change in policy. But all "policy" ever does in a corporate structure is provide a middle-management scapegoat for future whipping. We all know of companies who do things differently from their "official stated policy" on a daily basis, do we not? That policy becomes a P.R. safety valve for some spokesman to say "see, we have an official policy on this, we can't help it if some of our stores violated it."

According to Consumer Affairs, the Toys-R-Us press release also insists that "by the end of 2008, juvenile products must be produced without the addition of phthalates." Well, that's just great, but what about the products that they're going to be selling ALL YEAR LONG?

If there's nothing wrong with PVC products, then why get rid of them? And if there IS something wrong with them, why would you wait a YEAR to "phase them out" off your shelves?

PVC toys are already completely banned in the European Union, incidentally.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Plastic-hating Elitism?

According to Jamie O'Boyle, speaking in the article "Plastic Sacked" by Joan Klimkiewicz, "Consumers who shun plastic grocery bags tend to be college-educated urban dwellers who live near stores promoting such awareness, such as Trader Joe's and Whole Foods".

This is precisely why a voluntary and gradual attempt to switch over to cloth bags is just not going to work, however well intentioned. The plastic bags must be banned, not merely discouraged.

It may sound elitist to say, but there exists a vast section of the world's population which will never ever be made to functionally grasp why plastics should be avoided. And even if you do manage to drive this point into their heads, most are too lazy to act upon it. The decision of "paper, plastic, or cloth?" must be taken out of all our hands at the grocery store.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Transparent shills for the plastics industry

Just happened across this sickening link to a magazine article that is so blatantly pushing the party line of the plastics manufacturing industry, it's ridiculous. "Life in plastic, it's fantastic"? I think I'm going to throw up.

I don't know who this "Julie Maske" is, but considering what a huge quantity of statistics and inside-industry data she's spouting about the plastics industry, she certainly must have done a herculean amount of research. Problem is, it ALL seems to have come from ONE source: Heidi Johansen and Paal Skjetne at SINTEF Applied Chemistry. If any effort was made to seek information about plastics from an opposing or differing view, it's not evident in the article. The article seems clearly pre-designed to promote the nauseating idea stated in its headline, that plastics are fantastic.

Good examples of the unquestioning dull-mindedness of this article are observations like "without plastics, we would be living in the stone age" and "without disposable articles, it would be like the Black Death again". Not only are both of these statements demonstrably not factual, it underscores that this article is a blatant advertisement in disguise; a puff piece designed to promote the ludicrous views of the plastics industry, who have far more in common with "the Black Death" than the lack thereof.

It also adds insult to idiocy by illustrating the lead-in with a huge photo of a Barbie doll (if ever there were a perfect symbol of all that is wrong with the world, the Barbie doll would be a contender near the top of the list).

Not all shills for plastic companies are this obvious. Keep your eyes and ears open for the gentler, subtler spin promoted by plastic lobbyists and PR-spin-doctors in the media.