If you don’t even know where to begin, a good guide to what every parent needs to know –
Plastics may look inert, but the chemicals inside them are not. “There are chemicals used in plastics that are not tightly bound to the material, which means they easily leach away, especially when plastics are heated or hot contents are put into them,” said Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana, M.D., M.P.H., a pediatrician and researcher at the University of Washington and the Seattle Children’s Research Institute.
The types of chemicals in plastic that cause most concern are phthalates and bisphenols, said Dr. Leonardo Trasande, M.D., a pediatrician and researcher at NYU Langone Medical Center. Phthalates, which are typically added to plastics to make them pliable and soft, have been called “the everywhere chemical.” They’re found in children’s toys, plastic food wrap, vinyl flooring and personal care products like deodorants, nail polish, hair gels, shampoos, soaps and lotions. Bisphenols, including the most commonly known bisphenol-A (BPA), are more typically found in hard polycarbonate plastics such as water and juice bottles, food containers, eyeglass lenses and the linings in food and soda cans.
A large body of research suggests that phthalates and bisphenols can act as endocrine disruptors, meaning that they either mimic hormones in the body or interfere with their action. Even low blood concentrations can have an effect, according to Dr. Trasande, and they can impact multiple organs at once, especially during sensitive periods of development like fetal development, infancy and early childhood. The chemicals can pass from mother to fetus during pregnancy and to her baby via breast milk.