How to Protect Our Children from Endocrine-disrupting Chemicals in Plastics

How to Protect Our Children

We’ve learned about why it’s important to protect your growing children from endocrine-disrupting chemicals.  Now let’s discuss how to get the job done.  It may seem overwhelming, but you can do it with a little practice – and the benefits are worth the effort!

Decreasing BPA Exposure is Paramount

  • The following types of plastic are typically made without BPA: PET or PETE (#1), HDPE (#2), LDPE (#4) and PP (#5). Plastics from recycling category #1 should not be reused even though they’re BPA-free, because they can leach other chemicals (like antimony) when exposed to heat and detergents
  • BPA has been discovered in some color-tinted PP (#5) plastic food containers and teethers, so be sure these products are either labeled as BPA-free or have been confirm with the manufacturer to be BPA-free
  • Avoid aluminum bottles, canned foods and pre-made baby formula; they require a protective liner that is typically uses a BPA-based epoxy. Use stainless steel bottles, fresh or frozen foods and powdered baby formula instead. Eden Foods cans are one of the only BPA-free options in canned food (except for their tomato-based products)
  • Avoid polycarbonate baby bottles and containers (#7 or PC recycling codes). Also be aware that not all #7 plastics contain BPA; many newer plastics like PES and Tritan copolyester are thrown in to the #7 Other category, but are BPA-free
  • Keep in mind that manufacturers are not required to label their products with materials used or recycling codes. If you find an unmarked product, be sure to contact the manufacturer to confirm. There are several trusted companies and blogs who have done the work for you, so checking with them first will save you some time and frustration (SafeMama and The Soft Landing)
  • Choosing food containers made from glass, silicone, stainless steel and wood ensures you won’t have to be concerned about BPA at all
  • Before you buy, check our Safer Food Storage Guide for and extensive list of safe alternatives

Avoid Phthalates, Especially in Pregnant Mothers and Children

  • Avoid PVC plastics that use phthalates as a plasticizer (softener): vinyl bibs, teethers and toys, nap mats and shower curtains. They may be labeled with the #3 recycling code.
  • If you have vinyl flooring in your home, damp mopping it on a regular basis removes phthalates accumulated in the dust on the floor. Direct sunlight, moisture and heat on vinyl tiles can cause it to release phthalates more quickly. And of course, choose non-vinyl options when replacing flooring.
  • Toys with the worst phthalates should already be off the shelves, but check to see if toys you already own were made with the chemical before the ban took effect.
  • Choose personal care products that are specifically labeled as phthalate-free. Keep in mind that many harmful chemicals are often hidden under a general “fragrance” label. Seek out upstanding cosmetics companies who have pledged not to use phthalates.
  • Pollution in People provides an excellent breakdown on which phthalates are where and how to avoid them.

Be Pro-active By Avoiding PVC Now

  • Watch for “vinyl” in product descriptions, as it is commonly used as a nickname for PVC. But keep in mind that the term “vinyl” may also be used to describe ethylene vinyl Acetate (EVA) and polyethylene Vinyl Acetate (PEVA). Both of these plastics are considered to be safer alternative to PVC and are acceptable choices
  • Avoid products marked with PVC, V or the #3 recycling code on the product or its packaging.
  • Manufacturers are not required to label their products with materials used, so you may need to confirm with each manufacturer.
  • Be aware that many companies are proud to offer you phthalate-free PVC, and while this is a step in the right direction, we need to avoid PVC completely. Encourage the makers of your favorite companies to use PVC alternatives if possible
  • Check the Center for Health Environment and Justice (CHEJ) for an extensive list of companies who do not use PVC in their products
  • On a side note: food containers are not typically made with PVC (and thus no phthalates), so don’t focus your effort in this area

Alicia Voorhies

Alicia Voorhies began her career as an RN with a specialty in developmental disabilities, autism spectrum, seizure and behavioral disorders. She spent most of her nursing career as a Director of Nursing for a non-profit organization that focuses on caring for people with developmental disabilities in a home-based setting.

Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a guest blogger of The opinions expressed on this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or, and as such we are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. View the license for this post.

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