Most of us know that use of plastic threatens global environment. You may also know plastic doesn’t decompose to the soil. We use plastic for many purposes and through as waste. Many of us are still using plastic to store fruits and vegetables whether in refrigerator or outside or in home. And these activities are dangerously threatening not only to the planet’s environment but also to our health. A small step in replacing plastic bags as storage bag can make a big contribution. Surely we can do. Let’s find how?
Have a glimpse how plastics threaten our environment.
It is not necessary to explain too much how plastics are affecting our planet.
Our waste plastics take too long time for decomposition. For example plastic bag can take between 400 and 1000 years to decompose.(1)Plastic decomposes in ocean but releases hazardous toxins-study found.(2)Even burning plastics emit hazardous toxic gases.
Plastic pollutes the environment by polluting all air, water and land.
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that, to a varying degree, resist to environmental degradation through photolytic, biological and chemical process.(3) The most commonly encountered POPs includes as some pesticides like DDT, industrial chemicals, as well as unintentional by-products of many industrial processes. POPs have potential to long range transport, exist to the environment for prolonged period, ability to bio-magnify and bio-accumulate in ecosystems. Apart from environmental concerns POPs have significant negative impact to human health. As per WHO’s data even to low levels of POPs – can lead, among others, to increased cancer risk, reproductive disorders, immune disorder, neurological impairment, endocrine disruption, gene toxicity and increased birth defects.(4)
Plastic abundance transports Persistent organic pollutants (POPs).(5)
Micro plastics are very tiny plastic particles comes from source like degradation of larger plastic products and microfibers. Recent research estimated that annual micro plastics consumption ranges from 39000 to 52000 particles depending on age and sex. These estimates increase to 74000 and 121000 when inhalation is considered. Additionally, use of plastic bottles for drinking water stretched this more to a higher unit. (6)
And this can threatens functions inside your body including gastrointestinal, endocrine disruption, reproductive, cardiovascular, respiratory, impaired immune function, cancer and more.(7)
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a plasticizer used in plastic bottles, cups, containers or similar products. BPA in plastic is now concern due to numerous negative health effects. (8)
But BPA free plastic may also contain other plasticizer.(9)Study indicates BPA free not necessarily be safe as we thought.(10)
Use of glass, ceramic or stainless steel bottle are safer than plastic bottles.
As conscious citizen we can take some steps of our own rather than waiting for the authorities take up. Simply replacing fruits and vegetable storage bag can give a big contribution. Let’s see what options we have now.
Cotton bags can preserve your vegetable but not for long time. However preserving in cotton bags can have exposure to bacteria, yeast or fungi.(11)Our body need bacterial exposure but sometime that can be life threatening. And also the wide use of antibacterial product over a long time has raised the question of potential negative effects on your health. (12)
Bacterial or fungal exposure to human health is ongoing interest of research and has to evaluate more. Therefore these data is not conclusive at this stage. Long storage in cotton bags is not preferable.
Silicone bag can keep your fruits and vegetable fresh for longer period. Silicone, a synthetic rubber made of bonded silicon (a natural element abundant in sand and rock) and oxygen. Food-grade silicone generally does not react with food or beverages or produce hazardous fumes, and as such is safe to use up to recommended temperatures.(13)
As per Health Canada Cookware made from food grade silicone has become popular in recent years because it is colorful, nonstick, stain-resistant, hard-wearing, cools quickly, and tolerates extremes of temperature. There are no known health hazards associated with use of silicone cookware. Silicone rubber does not react with food or beverages, or produce any hazardous fumes.(14)In United States FDA approved food grade silicone. (15)Although FDA is a body of the US Government, its principles and regulations are adopted worldwide.
However there are still some questions. Although silicone is very stable it is not completely inert.(16) Siloxanes were also detected in air, water and soil and tend to exist for long time.(17)
Over all silicone are commonly regarded as non-toxic to humans and the environment, or toxic to a very small extend. However silicones differ in particle size, molecular weight, shape and chemical groups. As a result, this determines the different physico-chemical properties that directly affect the safety or the risk of their use.(18)Therefore it is safer to choose a good quality rather than cheap quality.
Silicone bag can be considered for vegetables storage for three reasons-as it can be reusable, stable to a much higher degree than plastic and available option we have presently.
These small acts can contribute to a bigger change for the environment, for a better world for your health. You can also have cotton bags with multiple compartments to carry your vegetables from market. This will also encourage lesser use of plastic bags. All these can be found in a good store or online shopping like Amazon or similar.
Disclaimer: The above article is for informational purpose only. References: 1.http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/globalassets/documents/raise/publications/2011/environment/3611.pdf 2.https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090819234651.htm 3.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persistent_organic_pollutant4.https://www.who.int/foodsafety/areas_work/chemical-risks/pops/en/ 5.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plastic_pollution 6.https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.est.9b01517# 7.https://ecologycenter.org/factsheets/adverse-health-effects-of-plastics/ 8.https://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=bpa+contributing+to+obesity,+neurological+and+immune+disorders&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart&sa=X&ei=LwWFUtu9HoWo4APU0ICAAw&ved=0CDcQgQMwAA (Google Scholar-bpa contributing to obesity, neurological and immune disorders) 9.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plasticizer 10.https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(18)30861-3 11.http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/globalassets/documents/raise/publications/2011/environment/3611.pdf 12.https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/antibacterial-soap-you-can-skip-it-use-plain-soap-and-water 13.https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/earth-talk-silicone-tally/ 14.https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/household-products/safe-use-cookware.html 15.https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/cfrsearch.cfm?fr=177.260016.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2257502417.https://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/acs.est.6b04828
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