Originally Posted by The Leader
But aren't there other chemicals in plastics that have never been studied for carcinogenic effects?
Actually testing something for carcinegonicity is horrifically long term, and sometimes inconclusive. Dr. Bruce Ames (Cal-Berkeley) devised a mutagenicity test, hypothesizing that a mutagenic chemical eventually will prove to be a carcinogen. There is no conclusive proof to this hypothesis, but the preponderance of the evidence suggest this to be the case. Mutagenicity is far easier and quicker to show than carcinogenicity.
Pedantically speaking of course.
Specifically, yes, there are some chemicals in some plastics (car parts, guns, garage doors, etc.) that are not meant for human consumption, yet can potentially find their way into the environment, and thence into the human body. This is a matter of risk assessment (one of the cornerstones, incidentally, of Dr. Ames' research) and is extremely difficult to judge. For example, everyone KNOWS that plastics don't degrade in the environment; they last for hundreds of thousands of years, right? Therefore, these plastics represent a low risk.
Well, Dr. Saido proved quite the opposite - the ocean's chemistry (saline, minerals and sunlight) provide a reaction vessel where a polycarbonate bottle CAN degrade, and in a few months or years, and not hundreds. Whoops. This raises the risk factor quite substantially.
Unfortunately for us, we've been dumping plastics onto the ground for many many decades (damned litterers!), plastics that can eventually find their way to large bodies of water - rivers, lakes estuaries and of course, the ocean. There are many hundreds of thousands of tons of plastic floating about the Earth's oceans, each degrading and leaching their component parts back into the environment. BPA is the tip of the proverbial iceberg - what about plastics that have been treated with antistatic agents that have
been shown to be carcinogenic?
Scary? Yes, but what to do about it? It's in the environment, and if our previous discussion on climate change serves as anything, it shows that the environment is really big. This stuff isn't going anywhere anytime soon. And there's no getting away from it completely.
Using glass containers and purified water only serves to make you feel better; it does nothing substantive to limit exposure.