Q&A: BPA and Plastics

  • August 8, 2012 8:18 am

Question:

Alexandra,
A friend just sent me a video of you talking about safety concerns about plastics and children. My wife and I are brand new parents. Our twins were born 6 weeks ago. We are using the Dr. Browns BPA-free bottles. My concern is we’ve been washing them in the dishwasher. I’m wondering about the possibility of substances (other than BPA) in the plastic leaching into the milk due to the heat in the dishwasher. Do you have any info on this? Where do you find your information? We’ve been reading a lot but haven’t seen any studies on possible dangers of BPA free plastics that are exposed to high temperatures. Do you think I should switch to glass or just start hand washing the plastic bottles I’ve got. Thanks for your help.

Best,
David

Answer:

Hi David,

Congrats on your new additions.

Watching that video of me talking about plastic, it should come as no surprise that I’m deeply wary of plastic for both environmental and health reasons and therefore fond of both shatterproof glass and/or stainless steel–especially for the early years and developmental moments. All plastics degrade when exposed to high temperatures. While the safety research has mainly been on BPA (plastic #7) and PVC/Vinyl (plastic #3), there are studies that have been done on what comes out of even the plastics that are considered safe by the scientific community, especially #1. Since you’re contending with twins, you might not be aware that the FDA recently finally banned BPA from baby bottles, though not from any other infant products (which is frustrating). There is no word on what manufacturers are supposed to be replacing BPA with, and if these chemicals are any safer than their banned predecessors. More reasons to avoid plastic….

Though there are great resources (like The Environmental Working Group) to turn to for information on plastic, staying on top of  the latest plastic safety details can be a full time job. This is another reason I prefer glass and stainless steel. You don’t have to keep on top of their safety.

Another bonus: If you are too tired to wash everything by hand, glass and stainless are your friends; both are fine in dishwasher. Keep in mind that any/all plastic you use should only ever go on the top rack of the dishwasher if you can’t hand wash.

Bottle issue solved, now get some sleep!

Best,

Alexandra

Cafe Mom’s Mom Ed: Green Living 2nd Episode –All About Plastics

  • April 26, 2012 3:22 pm

More fun on the set of Mom Ed: Green Living. This time Kristen and I chatted about all things plastic. I really do try to avoid the stuff as much as possible.

Let me know what you think!

Q&A: Toxic Smells At Work

  • October 13, 2011 1:11 pm

THE QUESTION

Hi Alexandra,

Last Thursday there was a very strong smell of burning plastic [at work]. The school sent out the AC specialists who thought it was the belt, or burnt out motor. They turned the AC off for hours and the smell [was] persistant. I had to go home because the smell made me nauseated, gave me a headache and irritated my throat and lungs.

It wasn’t just me but all the students who were here that day.

One specialist thought it was the monitors heating up. But when on Friday someone suggested it was the HUGE curtains we have hanging (pvc looking and OLD), he asked me if I wanted to smell it.

When I did I vomited all over the place.

So, we took down the curtains after they brought a can to measure the air toxicity level in the room.

Do you by any chance have any suggestions about what to do now? Send the curtains for testing? Should I get a lung test? Any ideas on who might know?

I know you must be very busy, but if you have the time I would really appreciate any advice.

Thank you,

S.

THE ANSWER

Dear S.,

Sounds horrid.

Is the smell gone? What did the air toxicity test show? If the curtains remain down and were the problem, they should be gotten rid of–why bother testing them. Ventilation is important — open windows if you can. Does the school have any (industrial) air purifiers? Or fans?

I’d say get rid of the curtains entirely and if the smell is gone then you’re good. I’m not a doctor but I don’t think a lung test is needed if the smell was a one time thing and you’re no longer feeling sick.

There are environmental experts who come in and test air and that is what I’d suggest but it sounds like [the school] already did those tests. If the smell remains, push to get the results of the test and ask them to remove the curtains.

Best,

Alexandra

Q&A: Reusable Snack Bags

  • September 13, 2011 8:08 am

My daughter starts kindergarten today (!) so I thought I’d post a little back-to-school friendly question and answer exchange that happened recently on my Facebook page. If you’re not already chatting with me on Facebook, please “like” my author page and join in the discussions.

THE QUESTION:
Do you have any info on reusable snack bags?  I am wanting to make some, but all patterns, etc. say iron-on vinyl for the interior.  While they don’t have BPA, they do have phthalates.  Not cool.  Do you have an alternatives in mind?

-Melanie

THE ANSWER:

Glad you’re trying to avoid those little plastic baggies that can’t be recycled and clog our landfills.

Oh no way on the vinyl. Yuck. There are many many versions on the market from recycled plastic to nylon and back — none of them have vinyl. We have some that are hemp on front and a nylon-y fabric inside. Not entirely waterproof but machine washable/good enough for me. Check out reusablebags.com and GreenDepot.com. Many options.

Also, I found these on Etsy, which are what I bought [at Green Depot] and use at home.