Plastics is one of the most compounds we used in our daily life. We used it since a long time ago. Up till now, plastics are still being one of the most popular product in the market. Factories made plastics from a combination of chemicals component. We have a different kind of chemicals component that we use to make plastics. Some of them, are dangerous, and some of them don’t. Knowing the chemicals components that factories used to make plastics would help you to decide which one of plastics that you would use. However, here are the list of chemicals in plastic and its dangers if we use it too much:
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The first list of chemicals in plastic is Phthalate, the esters of phthalic acid. The main use of phthalate is as plasticizers, to increase flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity. Factories made phthalate by reacting phthalic anhydride with alcohols. In 2010, there is still a lot of phthalate products in the market. However, recently the use of phthalates is decreasing due to growing environmental awareness of its dangers. Eventually, factories are limiting and stops using phthalate as plasticizers. Other sources of phthalates are milk, meats, and butter.
There is actually a lot of products that factories made from phthalates. Some of them are lubricants, glues, adhesives, detergents, children’s toys, and more. In short, there are a lot of products between us that contains phthalates. Most of the phthalates use as a plasticizer, about 23% are in wire and cable production. About 70% of plasticizers produced in the world (in a total of 8.4 million tons) are phthalates.
Phthalate esters are actually a derivative of phthalic acid. When it is added to plastics, it will allow polyvinyl molecules to slide against one another. It has high solubility in oil, but low solubility in water and has a low volatility level. It takes a form of a liquid, which is colorless and odorless.
Phthalates, some of them (including DEHP) are known for their potential to act as endocrine disruptors. Many research has tried to find the long term effects of phthalates exposure. Some of them have found that phthalates may cause abnormalities in penis if a mother who has a newborn sons has a high level of phthalates (DEHP) in their blood.
Other research suggests that phthalates may also disrupt endocannabinoid system. They block cannabinoid receptor type 1 as an allosteric control antagonist. Other damage of phthalates may include metabolic interference, liver and testes damage, or hepatocarcinogenic.
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A polycarbonate is a group of thermoplastic polymers. It is called polycarbonate because it contains carbonate groups in their chemical structures. Factories can make polycarbonate by reacting bisphenol A and phosgene COCl2. Using this reaction, factories made at least one billion kilograms annually. Another way of production includes transesterification of BPA and diphenyl carbonates.
We used polycarbonates in a wide range of applications. A major application of polycarbonate includes DVD, Blu-ray or compact disc production. Another application is in building high-stability capacitors, and another electrical component. In addition to that, companies also used polycarbonate in their the construction process. More application includes medical applications, aircraft production, phones, and others.
Polycarbonate has a high impact-resistance, but it has low scratch-resistance. Polycarbonate unique properties than many other kinds of glass are that it is better at transmitting light. Not only that, it is also transparent to visible light.
Large plastic deformation can be done to polycarbonate without breaking or cracking it. Therefore, it is possible to processed polycarbonate at room temperature.
Polycarbonate can become dangerous when it changed to BPA. The bad news is, polycarbonate will change to BPA if they are exposed to a high temperature (which is not really high, around 70-80-degree Celsius). That’s why it is not safe to use polycarbonate in food storage.
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3. Polyactic acid
Polyactic acid is plastic that is derived from biomass, such as sugar cane or corn starch. It is biodegradable and therefore better than most other plastics, which is mainly derived from distillation or polymerization of non-renewable reserves such as petroleum. It has relatively low-cost production, that’s why polyactic acid might become an efficient alternative to other plastics. Application of polyactic acid range from bottles making to medical devices.
Polyactic acid is biodegradable with a chemical formula (C3H4O2)n. It has low glass transition temperature (between 43 to 62 degree Celsius). It has a relatively high melting point, which is 150-160 degrees Celsius. However, it can be heated, cooled, and reheated again up to their melting point without having significant degradation.
Polyactic acid can be toxic, if we inhaled or absorbed it through our eyes or skin. However, when in its solid form, PLA is not a toxic compound.
Polypropylene is a thermoplastic from propylene monomers. It has a wide range of application including packaging for consumer products, automotive industry, textiles, and others. The global demand of polypropylene is about 45 million metric tons, and it is predicted that it will increase up to 62 million metric tons by 2020. The major use of polypropylene is in the packaging industry (about 30%). Electrical and equipment manufacturing comes in second as it takes about 13% of polypropylene productions.
Polypropylene has a tough chemical resistance. It has a chemical formula of (C3H6)n. Polypropylene won’t reacts with diluted bases and acids, which makes it a very good choice for containers of detergents, or others liquids. It also has a high elasticity and high fatigue resistance. Polypropylene will retain its shape even after a lot of bending or torsion, which is very valuable to make products such as living hinges. Another property of polypropylene is that is has a high resistance electricity.
Polypropylene resin code is 5, which means it is safe to use. However, you should be careful if you are using it near a fire, because polypropylene is highly flammable.
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Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, also famously known as DEHP is one of the most common phthalates plasticizers. It has suitable properties and also low cost which makes DEHP very economic plasticizers that factories can use. DEHP has been banned from plastic industries, but it is not known whether DEHP has gone completely from plastics we know in our daily life. In 2010, DHP has 54% market share that makes it a high production volume chemical. According to research, in 199, the production of DEHP has touched 241 million pounds a year.
Usually, plastics may contain about 1% to 40% of DEHP. Other than being used as plasticizers, factories also use DEHP as dielectric fluid in capacitors, or as hydraulic fluid. In addition to that, factories use DEHP as glow sticks solvent. Other use of DEHP may include rainwear, shoes, shower curtains, and much more.
DEHP has a chemical formula of C6H4(C8H17COO)2, or C24H38O4. This compound is colorless, soluble in oil but not soluble in water. It has 390.56 g/mol molar mass. It has a low melting point, even lower than water freezing point, which is -50-degree Celsius. However, it has a relatively high boiling point, which is 385-degree Celsius.
DEHP is a carcinogen, teratogen, and also an irritant for our body. Both women and man can get cancer because DEHP act as an endocrine disruptor. Which will have long lasting damage on human reproduction function, both for adult and children exposed to it.
When male children are exposed to phthalates in their prenatal development, they will have lower levels of reproductive function when they reach adolescent age. Another study found that DEHP may cause a reduction in sperm motility and chromatin integrity. In addition to that, DEHP may cause a decrease of penis width and other problems in newborn sons if their mothers have a high level of DEHP in their blood when they are pregnant.
A lof of people fear DEHP is because of its potential as a cancer agent. Even it is not yet conclusive, some studies already conclude that DEHP involvement in many molecular events are possibly causing cancer development. It includes increasing cell proliferation, causing oxidative damage to the cell, and also a selective clonal expansion of cells.
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BPA, which is an acronym that stands for bisphenol A, is one of the chemicals that factories used to make plastics. We can find it in many plastic products, dental sealants, to the paper of cashier recipients. A lot of research has found that BPA is one of the most dangerous chemicals that can cause cancer to human.
BPA has an estrogen-like activity that makes it become a hormone disruptor. It can affect how estrogen or other hormones act in the human body.
BPA can cause cancer. In a woman, BPA is dangerous because it can mimic estrogen hormone and develop breast cancer. It is safer for a woman to reduce their exposure to BPA that can act like estrogen.
Another danger of BPA is that it can affect the brain development of babies. A study in 2011 found that pregnant women with high levels of BPA are more likely going to have daughters who are hyperactive, prone to depression and also has a higher level of anxiety.
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More Harmful Chemicals in Plastics
here are more list of chemicals in plastic:
- The Hazards Lurking at Home
- Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)
- Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA)
- Decabromodiphenyl Ether (DECA)
Meanwhile, there are many list of chemicals in plastic that is harmful for our body, and also bad for earth effect. To be wise, it’s better to at least reduce the use of plastic in our daily life. Thus, we may replace plastic with another friendly product.
Those are some of the chemicals inside a plastics. After you read this, please be careful in deciding which plastics do you want to use. Avoid plastics which contain BPA, DEHP, or other dangerous chemicals to make sure you have a healthy life in the future. Be careful!
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