The name plastic comes from plasticity of many of the plastic products. It is the general name for a wide range of synthetic polymerization products. These are composed of addition or condensation polymers and may contain many additives to produce the necessary products. It can be formed to any products or film or fibres. Plastic is commonly classified based on the polymers, for example polyvinylchloride, polyethylene, acrylics and many others. Plastics are long chain of atoms bonded to one another in all forms. The majority of plastics are made of polymers of carbon and hydrogen alone or with nitrogen, oxygen, sulphur and chlorine.

What are the kinds of plastics and their uses?

• Cellulose based plastics: celluloid is an ivory replacement product and rayon, a sort of artificial silk.

• Phenolic plastics: used in colouring, telephone, radios, billiard balls, clocks. Sheets, canvas, linen, paper and tubes are also produced.

• Polyvinylchloride and polystyrene: used in plumbing, house siding, computer enclosures and food packaging.

• Nylon: used in toothbrushes, gears in cars, nylon stockings and clothes.

• Polyethylene and acrylic: containers, plumbing and fittings, mattresses, furniture, thermal insulators, coatings, adhesives, in boats, in aircrafts, polyester and terylene clothes, Teflon coated frying pan, Gore Tex, the breathing wears, Tupperware, fibreglass boats and floating toys.

What are effects of plastics on health?

The plasticizers of PVC are adipates and phthalates which are present in all food and water containers. These reach the liquids very easily and according to World Health Organization (WHO), these are carcinogens.

Polystyrene is also a toxin; its production pollutes the atmosphere and destroys the ozone layer. Through food containers it reaches food and disturbs the hormonal function of our body. It is a suspected carcinogen.

Bisphenol A from thermoplastic polymers releases into food and liquid acts like estrogens, the female sexual hormone and the effect of this hormone to men is not good! It results in insulin resistance which can lead to diabetes and heart disease. Recently it was banned in USA. Europe and several other countries are still sleeping.

Formaldehyde from plastics could be allergic.

Is bisphenol A, a carcinogen?

Bisphenol A mimics estrogens, the female sexual hormone and is linked to breast and prostate cancer. It is found in polycarbamate plastics and in the lining of some food cans. It can reach into food and beverages.

Avoid hard, clear plastic bottles including baby bottles and give up canned foods.

It is recently banned in USA and in EU.

What are the effects of plastics on environment?

Plastics are very durable. It is not possible to degrade plastics in nature and burning these releases toxic gases into the environment. Almost all the products release their toxic monomers or other additives used in their production. All the containers for food, milk, water and soft drink release the possible substances in food and liquid and these are carcinogens or suspected carcinogens. Recycling of plastics may be very difficult according to the industry. In few countries like Germany, the law makers stipulate stringent laws to regulate the industries and shops to take back the plastic waste of their products. All the countries may follow the example of Germany which implements environmental laws effectively.

Why are carrier bags unsafe?

This information may help people to think and handle plastics in the proper manner. It is important to know that the fresh food or cooked foods packed and stored in the coloured plastic bags are contaminated with poisonous substances like PVC monomers, phthalates and other poisonous additives.

Note: Classical Tiffin box is the safe carrier to hold food free from chemical poisons.