B.P.A., P.E.T., H.D.P.E., P.V.C., and BIO/ECO... WTF? I only asked for water!
There are probably several different plastic products within reach of you in any direction. We are often completely unaware of exactly what our plastic products were synthesized with. We have plastic products with labels such as PVC, HDPE PET, BPA, BPA-FREE, BIO and etc etc. Do we know what all this means? Lets start with the most common Plastic Culprit, BPA. Chemicals that have been used for 50-100 years in common household products are only just beginning to be flagged as high hazards. Plastic as we know today has had a relatively short existence while its impact has far out reached anyone's expectations.
Wow that is interesting. How long has BPA been used in polymers anyway?
Most recently BPA has been outlawed in many use-cases but it's production rate grows yearly. Other plastic catalysts have been used such as PET HDPE etc etc.
“BPA replacements have often not been adequately tested despite the fact that testing is easy to do,” said Collins, the Teresa Heinz Professor of Green Chemistry at Carnegie Mellon. “A large team of environmental health scientists and green chemists developed a methodology called the Tiered Protocol for Endocrine Disruption for identifying endocrine disruptors to the highest levels of contemporary science, that we published in Green Chemistry in 2013.”
BPA is a chemical used primarily in the production of polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins. Its use is so widespread — BPA can be found in products from DVDs and eyeglass lenses to cash register receipts — to which people and wildlife are regularly exposed.
BPA is dangerous because it mimics estrogen, a naturally occurring hormone, and can affect the body’s endocrine system. Studies in fish, mammals and human cells have shown that BPA adversely affects brain and nervous system development, growth and metabolism, and the reproductive system.
BPA’s health effects prompted manufacturers to start making BPA-free products like baby bottles and water bottles starting in 2010. Unfortunately, many BPA replacements also have similar toxicity to BPA itself.
Both during and at the end of commercial utility, many chemical products become water contaminants. Especially plastics. These may or may not be persistent. Those that negatively impact flora or fauna at low concentrations are called “micropollutants” (MPs).
Some MPs are endocrine disruptors (EDs). An endocrine disruptor is, “an exogenous chemical, or mixture of chemicals, that interferes with any aspect of hormone action”. Minimizing exposures to EDs is a significant sustainability challenge. High volume EDs that sufficiently elude water treatment processes to threaten the environment and human health are among the most difficult MPs to manage. For example, phenolic compounds are not completely removed by the combined physical, biological and chemical processes in water treatment plants resulting in contamination of released effluent streams.Bisphenol A (BPA), is one such continually emitted, anthropogenic, xenooestrogenic, high volume, commodity, phenolic ED found in multiple products. Although BPA is often regarded as weakly oestrogenic, its capacity to impact biological processes is modulated by several factors including interactions with plasma oestrogen-binding proteins, varying potential for metabolism, and the types and quantity of oestrogen receptors (ERs) present, including those bound to membranes. In some cases, BPA has been shown to have the same effect as and be as potent as the endogenous, primary, female sex hormone oestradiol which can alter the functioning of cellular proteins at sub-picomolar to nanomolar concentrations. Oestrogens regulate development and actions in bone, brain, cardiovascular, liver, and reproductive tissues. ERs are targeted by some endogenous hormones and pharmaceuticals. Such drugs include oestrogens, anti-oestrogens and selective oestrogen receptor modulators like BPA which lack the steroid ring structure of oestrogens, but retain structural elements necessary to bind to ERs. Drugs that target ERs include fertility enhancers and contraceptives, as well as menopausal hormone, breast and prostate cancer therapeutics. In addition to acting as an oestrogen, BPA can act as a thyroid hormone and androgen. Inappropriate adjustment of oestrogen, thyroid hormone and androgen regulated processes, such that which can result from exposure to xeno-oestrogens like BPA, can have negative effects. Consequently, in 2016 the European union voted to recognize BPA as a presumed human reproductive toxicant. In 2017, it voted to also add BPA to the list of substances of very high concern for adverse effects on human mammary gland development, cognitive functions and metabolism, identifying it as a general disruptor of the human endocrine system.
So what about HDPE PVC PET and "Safe"r-ish plastics that are BPA-FREE?
Standard Plastics (Polyolefins, PVC, PS & EPS, PET) account for approx. 85% of the total demand. How safe are these alternate polymers? Not safe at all, actually. There are early studies that prove the same disrupting effects BPA plays on the environment are actually at play in all of these polymers. When I say "early studies" I mean too late to warn people of their toxic properties because they are heavily used in daily activities.
PVC is one of the worst. PVC is commonly used in the formation of NYLON. Which can be used to make clothing and other fabric like material. Wearing plastics is a serious health hazard! Every load of laundry leaches micro/nano-plastics into our water supply. Recycling plastics is the fastest way to directly contaminate our enviornment. More on recycling in "Recycling Efforts and such"