In recent months, the discovery of harmful toxins in children’s products has prompted many parents to take a closer look at what they purchase for their little ones. The latest to be hit with controversy are polycarbonate baby bottles containing potentially harmful bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical linked to endocrine disruption (it mimics estrogen in the body), cancer and neurological and behavioural damage in fetuses and children. Look for glass bottles or a BPA-free label. These are a few of our favourite BPA-free bottles and sippy cups.
Do you know the difference between a 1 and a 7 when it comes to plastics? Most plastic containers are imprinted with a code (check the bottom, and look for a number inside a recycling symbol) that indicates the type of plastic used, which could determine what you buy. When in doubt, contact the manufacturer, and never heat plastic in the microwave.
2 HIGH DENSITY POLYETHYLENE (HDPE) Primarily used for cereal box liners, bleach and detergent containers, garbage bags and margarine containers.
4 LOW DENSITY POLYETHYLENE (LDPE) Found in most plastic bags, plastic wraps and squeezable containers.
5 POLYPROPYLENE (PP) Items such as straws, yogurt and ketchup containers, some baby bottles and food storage containers are often made of it.
1 POLYETHYLENE TEREPHTHALATE (PET, PETE) Used for a variety of containers, from water bottles to peanut butter jars, this plastic has been reported to leach trace amounts of a chemical called antimony trioxide. Animal tests have shown that this substance may be toxic to human reproduction or development.
3 POLYVINYL CHLORIDE (V, VINYL, PVC) This plastic is used in toys, plastic food wrapping, cooking oils, shower curtains and various construction materials. PVC can leach di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) or butyl benzyl phthalate (BBzP), depending on how it is manufactured. Recently, a Private Members Bill was passed in the House of Commons requiring the Ministers of Health and Environment to complete a reassessment of such chemicals, due to allegations that they can cause certain types of cancer and asthma and act as endocrine disruptors.
6 POLYSTYRENE (PS) Primarily used for take-out food containers, plastic cutlery and disposable cups and bowls. Long-term exposure to styrene, a component of polystyrene, has been found to have effects on the central nervous system including headaches, fatigue, weakness and depression.
7 OTHER The code 7 can be attributed to a number of different plastics, namely those that don’t fit into the previous six categories. Category 7 plastics include the latest bio-plastics, which are made of biodegradable resources such as potato starch and sugar cane. However, this category also includes polycarbonate plastics, which contain bisphenol-A (BPA).