Health Chats
The Real Truth About Plastics: What you should and shouldn't worry about
Wednesday Dec 08, 2010, 07:30PM - 08:30PM (EST)
Joe Schwarcz, PhDBlank
Director of McGill University's Office for Science and Society
Are plastic water bottles safe? Should you microwave food in plastic containers? Are baby bottles made with bisphenol A (BPA) safe for your child? Should you have any concerns about buying plastic toys this holiday season? Find out the answer to these questions and more as world-renowned chemist, Joe Schwarcz, PhD, and pediatrician Stacy Stryer, MD, review the latest research in this live health chat. Please join us at 7:30pm ET on Wednesday, December 8, 2010, to ask the experts your questions and learn the facts about plastics safety.
Joe Schwarcz, PhD:
I think that the alarm over BPA has reached ridiculous proportions and is not supported by the science...just this week there were headlines about BPA being found on dollar bills!!!
Joe Schwarcz, PhD:
not surprising because BPA is used to make the ink for cash registers and if you put a receipt in your pocket it can contaminate your money...but does it matter?
Joe Schwarcz, PhD:
I don't think so..just because it is there doesn't mean it is doing harm
Joe Schwarcz, PhD:
the problem is thos analytical chemist colleagues of mine who can now find contaminants down to parts per billion...that is 1 second in 32 years
Joe Schwarcz, PhD:
that's not finding a needle in a haystack..it's finding a needle in a world full of hatstacks
Joe Schwarcz, PhD:
haystacks not hatstacks
Joe Schwarcz, PhD:
but I had phone calls today from people wanting to know if they shoul launder their money...
Joe Schwarcz, PhD:
maybe....but not because of BPA
Joe Schwarcz, PhD:
if anyone has any BPA contaminate dmoney they are worried about....send them this way
Joe Schwarcz, PhD:
what I worry about whne I get change in a store...is whether taht clerk washed his or hands properly after visiting the bathroom...
Joe Schwarcz, PhD:
that can equip those bills with a lot more nasties tahn BPA
margypops:
I really appreciate this chance to ask about plastics , I get the bottles of water, I do not drink from the tap , ever , so my main question is about that safety. I have another concern regarding the michrowave, I always stand way back from it as I think it radiates many EMF's but I have put food into plastic dishes in the michrowave oven ....any ideas and thank you for you time .
Dr. Stacy Stryer:
Viruses can live on surfaces including money for hours to several days.
Joe Schwarcz, PhD:
Microwave ovens heat up food with radio waves...yes these are a form of EMF...but these are of very long wavelength and low frequency and low energy...way too low energy to break chemical bonds...
Joe Schwarcz, PhD:
and it takes the breakage of chemical bonds to cause cancer
Joe Schwarcz, PhD:
so ther eis no issue about microwave cooking...
Joe Schwarcz, PhD:
for more you can check our websites at www.oss,mcgill.ca and www.chemicallyspeaking.com
Joe Schwarcz, PhD:
you can also email me at joe.schwarcz@mcgill.ca....Eh
Joe Schwarcz, PhD:
That's Canadian for Bye
Dr. Stacy Stryer:
It has been fun chatting here today, thank you so much Joe for answering questions today.
Dr. Stacy Stryer:
If your questions were not answered this evening, Joe will be happy to provide an answer via email.
Dr. Stacy Stryer:
Thank you everyone!
Maineland:
Are plastic bottles with code 7 safe to wash, microwave and reuse? I believe they have BPA but I'm not sure if they are really toxic or just a marketing tool to get me to buy the latest and greatest bottles.
Joe Schwarcz, PhD:
Although I don't think there is any real risk, it is better not to microwave in polycarbonate bottles (#7).  Glass or ceramic is best.
Smoopy65:
We live in Pinellas County, Florida. Is it true that leaving bottled water in our hot cars and then drinking from them is dangerous to our health?
Joe Schwarcz, PhD:
There is no evidence for that
Smoopy65:
I'm sure someone else will ask this question, but...just how dangerous is it to our health to store/freeze/microwave in the typical budget containers?
Joe Schwarcz, PhD:
Freezing is not a problem.  The colder the temperature the less leaching.
patricia293:
If your "plastic" water bottle has been exposed to the sunlight, for a reasonable time, should you just get rid of it? Or do you not have to worry about it.
Joe Schwarcz, PhD:
Sunlight doesn't make the bottle unsafe
10NIS:
Can you reuse plastic water bottles (like Poland Spring)?
Joe Schwarcz, PhD:
Yes..just wash well