Bioplastics International

Toxic Dangers of Plastics:

Many chemical additives that give plastic products desirable performance properties also have negative environmental and human health effects.


These effects include:


  • Direct toxicity, as the cases of lead, cadmim, and mercury.


  • Carcinogens, as in the case of diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP).


  • Endocrine disruption, which can lead to cancers, birth defects, immune system suppression, and developmental problems in children.


  • Because phthalates are not chemically bound to the plastic polymer, they can easily migrate out.


The heavy metal antimony is activated by heat, such as when water bottles are left in a car, suntan oil bottles are left in the sun, or plastics are heated in a microwave.  Antimony has an effect on humans almost identical to arsenic.


  Plastic                                  Common Uses                          Adverse Health Effects


Polyvinyl                           Food packaging, plastic                Can cause cancer, birth

chloride                             wrap, containers for                      defects, genetic changes,

(#3PVD)                            toiletries, cosmetics, crib               chronic bronchitis, ulcers

                                          bumpers, floor tiles,                      skin diseases, deafness,

                                          pacifiers, shower                           vision failure, indigestion,

                                          curtains, toys, water                       and liver dysfunction

                                          pipes, garden hoses,

                                          auto upholstery,

                                          inflatable swimming



Phthalates                          Softened vinyl products                 Endrocrine disruption,

(DEHP,                             manufactured with                          linked to asthma,

DINP,                                phthalates include vinyl                 developmental and

and others)                        clothing, emulsion plant,                reproductive effects.

                                          footwear, printing inks,                 Medical waste with PVC

                                          non-mouthing toys and                 and pthalates is regularly

                                          children's products,                        incinerated causing public

                                          product packaging and                  health effects from the

                                          food wrap, vinyl flooring,             release of dioxins and 

                                          blood bags and tubing,                  mercury, including cancer,

                                          IV containers and                          birth defects, hormonal

                                          components, surgical                     changes, declining sperm

                                          gloves, breathing tubes,                 counts, infertility,

                                          general purpose labware,               endometriosis, and 

                                          inhalation masks, many                  immune system

                                          other medical devices                     impairment


Polycarbonate, with            Water bottles                               Scientists have linked very

Bisphenol A (#7)                                                                      low doses of bisphenol A

                                                                                                 exposure to cancers, impaired

                                                                                                 immune function, early onset

                                                                                                 of puberty, obesity, diabetes,

                                                                                                 and hyperactivity, among other




Polystyrene                       Many food containers for               Can irritate eyes, nose and

                                           meats, fish, cheeses, yogurt,        throat and can cause dizziness

                                           foam and clean clamshell               and unconsciousness. Migrates

                                           containers, foam and rigid              into food and stores in body

                                           plates, clear bakery containers,     fat. Elevated rates of lymphatic

                                           packaging "peanuts", foam             and hematopoietic cancers for

                                           packaging, audio cassette              workers

                                           housings, CD cases, disposable

                                           cutlery, building insulation,

                                           floatation devices, ice buckets,

                                           wall tile, paints, serving trays,

                                           throw-away hot drink cups, toys


Polyethelyne                      Water and soda bottles, carpet         Suspected human carcinogen

(#1 PET)                            carpet fiber, chewing gum, 

                                           coffee stirrers, drinking glasses,

                                           food containers and wrappers,

                                           heat-sealed plastic packaging,

                                           kitchenware, plastic bags, squeeze

                                           bottles, toys


Polyester                            Bedding, clothing, disposable            Can cause eye and

                                           diapers, food packaging,                    respiratory-tract irritation

                                           tampons, upholstery                           and acute skin rashes


Urea-                                   Particle board, plywood,                  Formaldehyde is a suspected

formaldehyde                      building insulation, fabric                  carcinogen and has been

                                            finishes                                             shown to cause birth defects

                                                                                                     and genetic changes.

                                                                                                     Inhaling formaldehyde can

                                                                                                     cause cough, swelling of the

                                                                                                     throat, watery eyes,

                                                                                                     breathing problems,

                                                                                                     headaches, rashes, tiredness


Polyurethane                     Cushions, mattresses, pillows           Bronchitis, coughing, skin

Foam                                                                                            and eye problems. Can

                                                                                                     release toluene disocyanate

                                                                                                     which can produce severe

                                                                                                     lung problems


Acrylic                               Clothing, blankets, carpets                  Can cause breathing

                                           made from acrylic fibers,                    difficulties, vomiting,

                                           adhesives, contact lenses,                 diarrhea, nausea, weakness,

                                           dentures, floor waxes, food                headache and fatigue

                                           preparation equipment,

                                           disposable diapers, sanitary

                                           napkins, paints


Tetrafluoro-                      Non-stick coating on                           Can irritate eyes, nose and

ethelyne                            cookware, clothes irons                     throat and can cause

                                          ironing board covers,                         breathing difficulties

                                          plumbing and tools