Plastics Guide

Confused about plastic?

If the number in the triangle is a 3, 6, or 7, skip it.

Number 3 plastics are easy to remember by the 3 letters PVC (or vinyl). This plastic often contains lead, cadmium, phthalates, and DEHA – all of which are toxic to humans. PVC makes the rounds, appearing in toys, shower curtains, cling wrap, some plastic squeeze bottles, plumbing, and furniture. Fortunately, we have noses that can help tip us off as PVC has a distinct plastic-y smell.

Number 6 plastics or polystyrene contain styrene, which is toxic to the brain and nervous system, and additives in number 6 plastics act like estrogen, which may be linked with breast cancer. Avoid this plastic in styrofoam, egg cartons, cups, carry out containers, and opaque plastic cutlery.

Polycarbonate plastic (7) contains bisphenol A (BPA), another chemical which mimics estrogen and linked with breast cancer. Hard, shatterproof bottles often contain this. Switch to stainless steel or glass bottles to reduce exposure.

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