In 1973, The Kinks released "Plastic Man": "He eats plastic food with a plastic knife and fork ... And he likes to lick his gravy off a plastic plate." Little did they know 46 years later their rant would end up being an accurate warning about the health hazards of chemicals in plastics.
For instance, take hormone-disrupting phthalates. They're a chemical in vinyl flooring, adhesives, detergents, lubricating oils, automotive plastics and plastic clothes and equipment. But they're also found in personal-care products (soaps, shampoos, hairsprays and nail polishes), as well as plastic packaging film and sheets (hence, in food), inflatable toys, blood-storage containers, medical tubing and some children's toys.
A recent study tracked the chemicals' effect on 209 kids. First, researchers measured phthalate levels (and their metabolites) in the urine of women during late pregnancy. Then they sampled levels in their children at ages 3, 5 and 7. Finally, when the kids reached 11, they were given a standard test to assess their motor skills, such as manual dexterity and running speed and agility. The research showed the motor-skill-damaging effects of prenatal exposure to phthalates persists, especially in girls, and exposure to phthalates after birth was related to lower motor skills in boys. Motor skill deficiencies are associated with cognitive problems and emotional/social difficulties.
Smart steps: Read labels and ditch phthalate-containing products. Phthalates may be listed as BBP, DBP, DEHP, DEP, DiDP, DiNP, DnHP and DnOP. Avoid plastics with the recycling number 3 and products with added fragrances. Buy fragrances and aromatherapy products made with only 100 percent essential oils.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.