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"Of the Ziploc Omelet, Bisphenol-A, and the Dark Side of the Plastic Generation"

Got BPA...?
...In YOUR Blood?!

Toxic chemicals such as Bisphenol-A from certain plastics, and many other Endocrine-disrupting substances known as Phthalates, have likely accumulated in your body.

Growing evidence is now converting this growing controversy about the potential harm from these chemicals into a concensus that this is indeed a serious and very wide-spread public health crisis.

Many studies have shown that these damaging chemicals are detectable in most everyone's bloodstream, and that they are resulting in far-reaching health dangers such as brain tumors and other forms of cancer and chronic diseases.

These toxic chemicals leach from plastic containers, packaging, can linings, processing equipment, inks, gaskets, gloves, ect. and contaminate the beverages and food we consume. So ingestion of food containing trace amounts of these dangerous molecules is the primary route through which they enter out bodies.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has known for decades that these chemicals are leaching into food and has approved over 3,000 of these chemicals for food contact applications since the 1950's. The FDA regulates these chemical contaminants leaching into our food as what they call "indirect food additives". They should instead refer to them as what they really are, "toxic chemical food contaminants".

We now know that at least 50 of these approved food-contact chemicals have suspected Endocrine-disrupting activity which may in turn cause serious health damage throughout the body.

But sales of these plastic related chemicals - such as Bisphenol-A (BPA), which is used to harden polycarbonate plastic, and Phthalates used to make plastics flexible - is hugely lucrative for the chemical industries that produce them in massive quantities.

So it is no wonder that industry is attempting to retard progress toward our understanding of the potential health effects of these toxins when ingested even in trace amounts over time. The fact that many of these chemical components used by the food and packaging industry are considered by them as "proprietary" or "trade secrets" only complicates the issue.

Bispenol A is but the tip of a very big iceberg of growing concern about trace chemicals in our diet. There are many other toxic chemicals being found in many varieties of foods. Examples are:

Flame Retardants in Butter, PolyVinyl Chloride (PVC) in wine, cheese, beer, and margarine, cancer-causing Styrene in cups of instant noodles, Estrogenic compounds in plastic water bottles, and Estrogen mimicking compounds such as Nonylphenol in baby forumula and juices. (source)

For more specific information about BPA such as latest news and sources of BPA in your kitchen try my custom Search Box at page bottom.

"Ziploc Omelet Recipe - Deliciously Dangerous or Just a Bag of Wrecked Hen Fruit?"

A visitor to Home-Air-Purifier-Expert.com asked me this interesting question which led me to build this page about the dangers of Bisphenol A from plastics:

Visitor's question about Ziploc bag omelets and possible toxic chemicals."I recently recieve a really fun recipe idea. You put two eggs and your choice of omlet ingredients into a ziplock bag. You shake, seal out the air, and put in a pan of boiling water for 13 minutes. They are so fun for the kids and taste great"

However, I've heard that "heating ziplock bags can release toxic chemicals which can be harmful to children and adults. Is there any truth to this that you know of?"

Thanks for the great and interesting question!

I did a little digging and there definitely seems to be quite a few people searching for information about ziploc omelets on the internet lately. There also seems to be growing concern as to whether dangerous toxins are leaching from ziploc bags, saran wrap, and many other plastic household products.

So with so many folks evidently looking to make ziploc bag omelets your question could be an especially important one. And since I am now craving my own ziploc bag omelet too I was happy to research your question. I was surprised and concerned about what I learned...read on.

What The Big Money Doesn't Want You to Know

Got Bisphenol-A?....

Much of the fears about chemicals in plastic products such as food storage containers, Saran wrap, and Ziploc bags have increased following the publication of results from a recent study about BPA or Bisphenol-A (an estrogen-like compound and suspected endocrine disruptor) which is used in the manufacture of some polycarbonate plastics. Bisphenol-A was found to play a part in the growth of specific types of prostate cancer cells in test animals. The study was conducted by Gail Prins, physiology professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago, and Shuk-mei Ho, head of environmental health at the University of Cincinnati. It was found that 100% of male mice exposed to BHA developed precancerous lesions as compared to just 40% in the control group. These lesions are known as Prostatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia, or PIN, and are considered to be a precursor of prostate cancer in humans.

To answer the question about toxic chemicals leaching from Ziploc bags, Home Air Purifier Expert can report that according to http://saranbrands.com/faq.asp and http://www.ziploc.com/ SC Johnson's plastic products such as Ziploc® brand bags and containers, and Saran ™ brand wraps do not contain Bisphenol-A, which given all the below information is probably very good news for consumers. It is also stated that their Saran ™ and Ziploc® products do not contain harmful plasticizers which have been associated with endocrine disruption. Two examples are adipates (DEHA) or phthalates (DEHP). They also recently changed their formulations to make them chlorine free. Interesting, considering the recent unfounded fears regarding Dioxin (a chlorine containing compound) causing cancer after possibly leaching from their products during microwaving. However, SC Johnson claims tests showed their products to be completely safe with no trace levels of Dioxin and well within the FDA's safety regulations. They also state their products are 100% Dioxin free and the temperatures needed to produce Dioxin in the presence of reacting chlorine (such as in waste incinerators) would be too high (1500 degrees Fahrenheit) for any consumer microwave oven to produce. They changed their formula of Saran Original Wrap to remove chlorine and now call it Saran Premium Wrap. They claim this formulation change was done in order "to use more environmentally-responsible ingredients in our products."

So, overall it appears as though Saran and Ziploc products may contain much safer plastic ingredients than is found in the plastic products listed below. Never-the-less, keep in mind that any steam in those omelet bags is very high energy and there could be trace amounts of other chemicals formed or leached from the ziploc bag and absorbed into the ziploc omelete ingredients, especially those containing fat, such as the eggs. I personally would not be too concerned though especially given all the other dangerous plastics we're surrounded with (as described below).

Update: I have since tried making one of these Ziplock Omelets and found it to taste of chemicals. I do not recommend anyone create omelets this way. The heat and the oil layer contacting the plastic bags seems a perfect scenario for chemical leaching into food.

I would avoid combining any form of heating of foods in contact with plastic containers of any kind - such as during the microwaving of foods, when boiling or hot water is used, or when hot foods are added to plastic containers - Ziploc bags or otherwise.

What My Family is Doing to Avoid Chemicals from Plastics

Heat catalyzes chemicals to leach from plastics and into foods. I suspect all plastics will eventually be proven beyond a shadow of doubt to leach harmful chemicals. Even the FDA is finally coming around and suggests NOT heating babybottles in hot water, among other practices. See more information on their about face on BPA below.

A few years ago I was not so concerned about this chemical issue. That is not so now. I have since become very conscious of where food is contacting these plastic chemicals and try to make changes to minimize my exposure.

My family now uses mostly glass containers for microwaving. We also avoid Teflon and Aluminum pans. We buy more whole foods and try to avoid as many canned goods and heavily processed pre-packaged foods as possible.

We never buy plastic water bottles. We use recycled glass or those hiker's stanless steel water bottles instead - the water also tastes better when not stored in plastic. We also store refrigerated foods in glass, stainless steel, or ceramic or stoneware containers and we avoid plastic utensils while cooking foods.

In other words my family has become anti-plastic mainly in the kitchen where food and drink is concerned. But realistically the stuff is everywhere and it is almost impossible to avoid plastic completely.

It does make sense though to eliminate plastics from our diet wherever possible - if not for health reasons, to reduce our carbon footprint and energy dependence (crude oil goes into plastics). Just by not heating foods in plastics you can eliminate much of the source.

The important thing that most families should do is to make a conscious effort to reduce their exposure to plastic chemicals, especially for infants and young children who are affected most by these chemicals. The reason for that has to do with their small body mass, their rapid cell growth, and their incompletely formed biochemical detox systems (not that maturely formed detox systems in adults can fully keep up either).

But I admit that we still have coffee makers with plastic parts contacted by hot water (thinking of replacing this with a French Press Coffee Maker). We still buy things like sour cream in plastic containers, cheese or turkey breast vacuum sealed in plastic, and many other food items that are hard to impossible to purchase in non-plastic packaging. Like I said, it is almost impossible to avoid.

If you make only a few changes to reduce your exposure to plastic toxins, I highly recommend that you just get rid of all those plastic food storage containers and stop heating foods in plastic containers. That means no Ziploc Bag Omelets.

I also strongly recommend installing water filters on your kitchen faucet and in your refrigerator water line. We could not believe how much better our water tasted after getting a new Maytag Refirgerator including replaceable PUR water filters.

Now we are spoiled and could never imagine going back to un-filtered tap water with its heavy chlorine / chemical taste and odor. Plus, years ago we had to install a PVC plastic water supply line several thousand feet long. So I'm sure some PolyVinyl-Chloride and other things are leaching into our water that way. Water filters give me great peace of mind to know we are no longer damaging our kidneys and liver via PVC or other plastic chemicals in our tap water.

It is also very important for environmental and health reasons to kick your plastic water-bottle habit or help others do the same. Clean filtered water and glass bottles will greatly help make most of your liquid consumption safer and will be another drop in the bucket toward cleaner oceans and less non-renewablel resources consumed.

I am so glad the above reader brought my attention to the topic of Ziploc bag omelets, because it is what helped me get the ball rolling on our journey toward finding ways to limit plastic chemicals in our food. I hope the below information helps you do the same.

"Bisphenol-A Rising"

Disinfecting Plastics & Bispenol-A Hazard?

Another visitor to Home-Air-Purifier-Expert.com wrote...

Visitor's question about Bisphenol-A and plastic/rubber kitchen utensils.Great website! I've read that it is dangerous to microwave food in plastic and I have stopped doing so. My dilemma now is that my kitchen sponges, dish brush and vegetable brush are made of plastic/rubber. I've read often that it is imperative to disinfect these items regularly by sticking them in the dishwasher or clothes washer. Won't the heat from trying to disinfect these items release the chemical from plastics that can be hazard to my health? Can't the chemical released from the heating of the plastic dinnerware and fruits/vegetables when I sue the sponges or brushes on them? I have a scouring pad that is made of plastic and foam and the manufacturer recommends boiling it to disinfect it. It is still the same problem of heat on plastic. Please advise me on what to do. - Thanks.

As far as a hazard from Bisphenol-A, you should look for a "7" printed on plastic items to tell if they may pose a particular concern; however, I know many items like dish brushes and scouring pads may not have the numbers and there may be other types of plastics that can leach chemical toxins as well.

Never-the-less, I just wanted to let you know that in regards to the items you mentioned, you probably don't have much to worry about. Based on what I know about solution chemistry I would think that items for scrubbing dishes may release trace amounts of chemicals like Bisphenol-A (particularly when heated)- however, those chemicals would have to be dissolved in a liquid and ingested to be of concern.

This is why water bottles, food containers, and can linings are of more concern. The chemicals have time to leach into the liquids in contact with them and which tend to be ingested.

When you place a brush or pad in a dishwasher or clothes washer, sure it may release trace chemicals, but they will mostly be washed down the drain during the wash cycle. And when you use them to clean dishes directly, you're probably rinsing the dish when clean water any way, so the trace is probably gone. Plus the chemistry of these items is pretty stable under those conditions anyway so not much danger exists. I still use my plastic brushes and pads - it's virtually impossible to elliminate plastics now-a-days. I have a ton of plastic containers that I try not to use anymore though especially because of the danger from Bishpenol-A and other trace organic chemical toxins.

Just watch out for those items in which food may be placed for extended periods of time like bowls, plates, bottles, or storage containers - especially if they appear to be old, cracking, or otherwise degrading. Acidic or fatty/oilly liquids will leach the chemicals more too, as will hot liquids due to the kinetic energy imparted to the molecules of these chemical components.

I think a lot of plastics that don't have the "7" may still be bad. This stuff is showing up in all our bloodstreams for a reason and industry has a way of quietly changing their products without admitting there's a problem (liability). This is what is happening now since toxicological studies are uncovering the vaste problem and starting to draw correlations between diseases like prostate cancer and Bisphenol-A - not to mention the growing concern over endocrine disrupters and the developmental issues now on the rise.

But I still wouldn't worry about the dish brush or pads;^)

I hope this helped.

Bisphenol-A is commonly used in the manufacture of some types of epoxy resins and plastic products used by billions of people on a daily basis. BPA has been in use for over 50 years and is one of the most commonly used industrial chemicals today especially as a major ingredient for hardening plastics. Some examples of products which may contain BPA are milk containers, water bottles, baby bottles, pacifiers, sippy cups, toys, can liners, food storage containers, dental sealants, plastic eating utensils, and water pipes. It's no wonder the media has given wide coverage to researchers' findings and the possible widespread health implications of Bisphenol-A. Bisphenol-A is released into food and liquids as these polycarbonate plastics age or decay (which is accelerated by microwaving, cleaning with detergents, or contact with acidic or hot foods and drinks).

Other studies have also helped to raise concern over Bisphenol-A. For example, in the Journal of Endocrinology a study was published which found that when young female mice are exposed to BPH their brains are affected and they begin to show behavioral traits similar to that of male mice. Other studies have also found evidence of a link between Bisphenol-A and breast cancer, diabetes, and miscarriages.

Furthermore, a Biology professor at the University of Missouri at Columbia discovered in 1997 that BPA can pass through the placenta of pregnant women and mimics the hormone estrogen. Given the estrogen-like behavior of Bisphenol-A and the levels of it found in most of us, it has been suggested that the effects may be like most of us wearing a sex hormone patch. Consequently, the implications for fetal development, cancer, attention-deficit disorder, and early puberty could be significant.

"Lifeblood's Legacy"

Environmental Health Experts are concerned that Bisphenol-A might leach out of plastic materials when heated, be ingested, and then result in a variety of damaging health affects. Given lab trials' suggestions that even low levels of Bisphenol-A exposure early on (such as in the womb) may dramaticly increase the possibility of prostate cancer later in life, their fears may be well founded. Unfortunately, BPA is already detectable is most people's bloodstreams! In 1995 the CDC found that Bisphenol-A is found in 95% of Americans. This isn't so surprising considering that over six billion pounds of polycarbonates are manufactured and consumed each year. Welcome to the plastic generation!

"Detrimental Effects to the Prostate"

Of course, it's important to keep in mind that lab trials don't necessarily directly hold true in people and they are not valid for all plastics; however, it is concerning that Bisphenol-A was shown to interact with very specific segments of DNA molecules linked to hormone sytems in test animals. The end result was detrimental affects to the prostate such that prostate cancer became much more likely later in the animals' lives.

Given these findings, researchers suggest erring on the side of caution by using water filters and non-plastic containers to heat food. Even containers advertised as dishwasher safe or microwave safe may leach Bisphenol-A when heated. A safe alternative is stainless steel. Better yet is the old bygone era standby glass which is mostly very stable Silicon compounds which do not emit man-made chemicals. Manufacturers of polycarbonate plastic products can also be contacted for specific information about whether or not Bisphenol-A is used in their process. It's also a good idea to make sure there is at least an inch of space between plastic wrap and food when heating in a microwave, even though many plastic wraps, such as SC Johnson's Saran Wrap, shouldn't pose a problem as far as Bisphenol-A is concerned. One clue that a plastic product contains Bisphenol-A may be whether there is the a number 7 imprinted in the container.

The city of San Francisco has taken the concerns over Bisphenol-A to the next level and has banned some plastics made using Bisphenol-A. According to the new law passed by the mayor in June, all toys, pacifiers, and bottles containing BPH must be replaced. Of course there's always an opposing side, and one side is usually more biased than the other, especially where industry revenues, lobbyists, special interest, and economic impact are concerned.

"Market Impact Versus Public Health"

The Food and Drug Administration and the American Plastics Council insist Bisphenol-A is safe and non of the industry backed studies have shown any dangers. However, it's important to keep in mind that organizations such as the FDA may be as concerned with market impact from their decisions as they are with the public health considerations. The opposing side suggests that the most predominant finding is "no effect" and that the levels of BPA used in many studies were very high relative to real life situations. They suggest a person would have to consume over 500 pounds of food or drink in contact with BPA in order to exceed the EPA's dose limits. The director of the prostate cancer division of the American Cancer Society also cautions against extrapolating findings from rodent studies to humans. Consequently, official action recommendations by the Scientific community are likely a long way off. However, based on what we've learned from the tobacco industry's ongoing deadly legacy, the most valid findings will likely only come from research scientists with no industry connections or conflicts of interest. Unfortunately, conflicts of interest are often difficult to discern. For example, an internet search for Bisphenol-A will produce links ranked at the top of results to industry backed sources of information on Bisphenol-A, most of which downplay the data showing any link between Bisphenol-A as a possible hormone interuptor or endocrine disruptor.

"1 in 6"

The independant Researchers vehemently defend their findings saying their tests were performed with a conservative level relative to real-life human exposure levels. They remind skeptics that there are just too many corroborating findings by reputable labs around the world suggesting the possible biological dangers of Bisphenol-A at or below real-life levels. Also of interest is the fact that the rate of prostate cancer in men over the age of 50 has increased over the last three decades such that one in six men are now expected to develop prostate cancer. This increase in prostate cancer is coincident with the increased levels of exposure to estrogen-like compounds like Bisphenol-A.

"Big Money's Influence"

No doubt, if more evidence continues to accumulate of the dangers of Bisphenol-A leaching from plastics there will certainly be a huge battle errupting between Scientists on both sides of the debate. In that regard I reference the cigarette industry decades long deadly debacle. You can be certain the petroleum, plastics, food, cigarette, and many other industries will fight tooth and nail to prevent stricter safety regulations from being inacted. As usual big money's influence on government will probably win out and we will increasingly lament our stolen future.

Other Excellant Sources of Information and News About Bisphenol-A:

Update: The FDA shifts its position on BPA, saying it has "some concern" about health of children exposed to the chemical in plastic bottles and cans

FDA’s Current Perspective on BPA...

"At this interim stage, FDA shares the perspective of the National Toxicology Program that recent studies provide reason for some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children."

BPA Information for Parents
from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The WWF is the world's largest and most experienced independent conservation organisation and a search for Bisphenol-A on their website reveals a wealth of information including the report - Bisphenol A: A Known Endocrine Disruptor, by Gwynne Lyons - A WWF European Toxics Programme Report April 2000

The Scorecard.org's pollution information site has a lot of useful information about Bisphenol-A and thousands of other chemical toxins.

The Hazardous Substance Databank's full record for Bisphenol-A contains information about:

  • Human Health Effects of Bisphenol-A
  • Emergency Medical Treatment for BPA
  • Animal Toxicity Studies
  • Metabolism/Pharmacokinetics of Bisphenol-A
  • Environmental Fate & Exposure
  • Environmental Standards & Regulations of BPA
  • Chemical/Physical Properties of Bispenol-A
  • Chemical Safety & Handling
  • Manufacturing/Use Information of Bisphenola

The Introduction to Hormone Disruptors website as the name implies has valuable information about chemicals such as Bisphenol-A which are known or suspected to disrupt the endocrine system and hormones.

First Gov For Consumers is an excellant source of information about just about anything. They also have over 200 entries for Bisphenol-A.

Search for More Information and News About The Growing Bisphenol-A Controversy: Type Keywords & Search It Below...

Learn More About Hazards in Your Home: Household Chemical Encyclopedia

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