Plastics To Avoid

Posted on Sep 9 2010 - 12:49pm by Russ


I have been meaning to write about which plastics to avoid.  Not entirely gadget related, but very important information.  You know the plastics that are known to leak toxins such as 3 (Vinyl or PVC), 6 (Polystyrene), and 7 (Miscellaneous).  What spurred this rant about "bad" plastics?  I was recently having lunch with a friend at the Apple cafeteria which had Zico Pure Premium Coconut Water, which I bought, and subsequently threw away after I saw the #7 plastic rating.


"Hello, my name is Zico, I like to use words like natural, nutritious, pure, etc, and then put my wonderful coconut flavored drink in a #7 type plastic so the consumer has no idea what potentially toxic plastic I may/may not be using."



Read on for details of what these plastic rating numbers mean after the break.

3 plastic Number 3 Plastics
V (Vinyl) or PVC.
Found in:
It's used in some cling wraps (yikes!), many children's toys, fashion accessories, shower curtains, and detergent and spray bottles. To top it off, PVC isn't recyclable, either.
Number 3 plastics may release toxic breakdown products (including pthalates) into food and drinks. The risk is highest when containers start wearing out, are put through the dishwasher or when they are heated (including microwaved). PVC manufacturing can release highly toxic dioxins into the environment, and the materials can off-gas toxic plasticizers into your home.


6 plastic Number 6 Plastics
PS (polystyrene)
Found in:
Disposable plates and cups, meat trays, egg cartons, carry-out containers, and some plastic cutlery
Why? Number 6 plastics can release potentially toxic breakdown products (including styrene). Particularly when heated! It has been found to leach styrene"“a neurotoxin and possible human carcinogen"“and has been banned in cities like Portland, Ore. and San Francisco. Still, it persists and is not often recyclable in curbside programs, though some recycling centers will take it.


Number 7 Plasticsimage
Found in: Baby bottles, three- and five-gallon water bottles, certain food container. A wide range of plastic resins that don't fit into the other six categories are lumped into number 7. Some are quite safe, but the ones to worry about are the hard polycarbonate varieties, as found in various drinking containers (like Nalgene bottles) and rigid plastic baby bottles.
Why? Studies have shown polycarbonate can leach bisphenol A, a potential hormone disruptor, into liquids. According to Trasande, no level of bisphenol A exposure is known to be truly safe, and in August a government panel expressed "˜some concern' that the ingredient causes neural and behavioral problems in children.


5 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Trent H September 9, 2010 at 1:32 pm -

    Naked Juice is guilty of the same thing if I recall!!!! I avoid them like the plague and have seen others doing the same thing at the grocery store.

  2. L c September 9, 2010 at 3:35 pm -

    I don’t buy 3 6 7 ever.

  3. Priscilla September 10, 2010 at 4:49 am -

    No authoritative or regulatory body anywhere in the world classifies styrene to be a known cause of human cancer. Moreover, a study conducted by a “blue ribbon” panel of epidemiologists and published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (November 2009) reports: “The evidence of human carcinogenicity of styrene is inconsistent and weak. On the basis of the available evidence, one cannot conclude that there is a causal relationship between styrene and any type of human cancer.” Further, polystyrene containers for food have been used safely for more than 50 years, having been tested and deemed safe by government agencies. Any minuscule amount of styrene that may migrate out of polystyrene containers into food is far too small to be of any health concern.

    Priscilla Briones for the Styrene Information and Research Center (SIRC), Arlington, Virginia. SIRC ( is a trade association representing interests of the North American styrene industry with its mission being the collection, development, analysis and communication of pertinent information on styrene.

  4. Ron Ablang September 10, 2010 at 1:08 pm -

    Not that I don’t trust Mr G.K. but what regulating body certifies these plastics as being “bad”?

  5. Josh Dean August 2, 2011 at 12:18 pm -

    I would like to know the same thing.

    WHO FUNDS the research HAS control of what information is published and what should be left out. A report NOT specifying Styrene to be in fact cancer-causing does NOT CLEAR the Plastic of possibly being HARMFUL for Humans. It is this sneaky way exactly, that harmful products, medicines, material, ets. . Are pushed through to the market without halt.

    The most relevant part of the Conversation is WHO is talking, and who is PAYING them. If Priscilla Briones, is a part of a trade organization making money from the continual use of Styrene, it would be pretty bad if Styrene was no longer desired for Party Platters, plates, cups, etc. . In fact it would be really bad for everyone in that industry. What is really bad? Well lets consider how much money that industry generates.

    This was taken from the website that Priscilla referenced

    “The U.S. styrene industry is a diversified approximately $28-billion industry comprising hundreds of companies with thousands of facilities that provide directly some 128,000 well-paying jobs throughout the country.”

    A huge industry with BIG $$$profits to loose. Does that sound like a group of Corporations and business people, who are gonna lay down easy when some small research firm with hardly any funding releases information on styrene products being potentially HARMFUL to humans? Billions of Dollars these companies are making from this material, and who would put that down without a fight?

    Is there a market for Styrene? Probably. A market where giant companies are NOT playing with the public’s health over another doller. When it comes down to it, BIG BUSINESSES are about generating profit, getting pay-off, and doing it through the maze of regulations that are created to protect consumers. They can afford the expensive lawyers, image consulting firms, PR, and even lobbying(buying government).

    I know cause I have worked in an industry merging plastics with one of our most coveted resources, water. Working in the water distribution business. What do you think we were using for our bottles? #7 And when a Customer was calling in concerned about the plastics we used, do you think I was allowed to tell them anything that would discourage them from purchasing more of our Bottled water?

    If I had researched more about the bottles my Job used, and decided I would tell the customer the plastic bottle we deliver to them is not healthy based off good evidence I found, If I referred the customer to websites providing research that was not funded by companies profiting or trading with the plastic industries, do you think I would still have my job the next week? NO, I wouldn’t. I would be let go for failing to comply with procedure or work regulation.

    Did they pay me enough, being a young college kid to “lie” to plenty of customer’s about the safety of plastics, yes, and 15$/hour and some benefits bought out 200 more of my co-workers who needed the money to get by.

    Its a call center, we are told we are the voice of the company, and then given very nicely designed brochures and websites to refer the customer to if they think or run into any problems with their service. We are paid to tell you what will keep you with the company the longest, and that is the companies way of making money. They hire and train the sweetest sounding ladies, and monitor calls to make sure you do not even have a crackle of offensiveness in your voice.

    The lesson is that, Corporations, and whole industries generating billions of dollars in profit, and stimulating the economy with jobs, are viewed as a good thing. So for anyone who is not making just as much money to say something against them it is like a kid trying to tell the strong bully and his gang to back off. Its an unlikely battle to win.

    SO BE SAFE PEOPLE< Protect your health, well being and your peace of mind. Don't let these Bullies fool you, they are not overly concerned with the little guys health in 20 years. They are focused on the industry and making the money. Maybe you yourself are in an industry where you can relate to some of these experiences.

    Who am I? I am a freelance photographer by profession, Health-nutt, Family guy, struggling middle class guy, people person, Food lover, work out enthusiast, Music man, and humanitarian with no agenda with exception to one against bullies and money corruption.

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