How do these harmful chemicals from plastics enter our bodies?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 16,165
    Michael Schade, PVC Campaign Coordinator with the Center for Health, Environment and Justice discusses how harmful chemicals from plastics enter our bodies.

    Host: How do these harmful chemicals from plastics enter our bodies?

    Michael Schade: Well, the chemicals get into our bodies from a number of different means. So for instance when you open a new vinyl shower curtain in your home, the chemicals that are released you actually breathe them in. So one route of exposure is inhalation, we can breathe these chemicals in to our bodies. Another route of exposure is by touching them. Some chemicals, we can actually be exposed to them by touching them, they can be absorbed into our skin or in the case of children, if you know children, they are always putting things in their mouth. They are putting their hands in their mouth, they are putting toys in their mouth, they eat dirt. So when children are doing these hand to mouth activities, that's another route of exposure. So when children chew on plastic toys or when they drink milk out of baby bottles they can be exposed to these harmful chemicals. Another route of exposure is dust, through skin exposure or breathing in dust. A lot of these chemicals well actually cling to dust. So actually, if we did a study and took dust samples, we would find really toxic chemicals in the dust including some chemicals such as DDT that have been banned for decades because many of these chemicals can persist for decades. They don't go away. They can stay in the environment for years and years and years. Another common route of exposure is through our food, through the meat that we eat and the milk that we drink and the cheese that we eat. A lot of these chemicals such as dioxins for example, these are the chemicals that accumulate in food and the higher that you go up the food chain, the greater the quantity is of chemicals we will see. So one of the ways that they get into the food is through air and water pollution. So if you think about it, when a chemical plant manufactures a chemical, they release it into the air where it goes into the water so that when it goes into the air, it settles onto farmland and then it accumulates into the crops and then the cows eat the crops and then we eat the cows. So that's one way that we are exposed to the chemicals through the food chain. The higher you go up the food chain, the more exposed to these chemicals we will be. As a result of this, all of us are carrying these chemicals in our bodies. Many of these chemicals such as phthalates, dioxins, Bisphenol A, they are found in our --many of these chemicals are found in either our blood, they are found in our urine, they are found in breast milk, they are found in placental tissue, they are found in newborns before they are even born. So as a result, we are basically conducting an unregulated chemical experiment because we are all being exposed to these harmful chemicals in our bodies. If anyone of us took a sample of our blood or of a woman that just had a baby, take a sample from her breast milk, we will find these chemicals in her bodies. In the case of breast milk, it's important to note that while these chemicals can be transmitted from mother to child by breast milk, the benefits of breast milk far outweigh any risks associated with these chemicals in breast milk.