Plastics Myth Busters
Get the true facts about all the plastic myths.
- All About Bags > Myths & Facts
- Plastic Water Bottle Myth Buster
- Snopes.com - Source for Urban Legends, myths, rumours and misinformation
Some common myths busted*:
MYTH: Reusing plastic beverage bottles causes harmful chemicals to leach into water.
FACT: Most convenience-sized plastic water bottles are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a lightweight, shatter resistant and well-tested material. Based on the results of its extensive review, FDA allows the use of PET in both single-use and repeated-use food and beverage packaging. In fact, refillable bottles made with the same PET resin as single-use bottles are frequently reused in a number of other countries.
Contrary to this hoax, PET bottles are not made with DEHA, an FDA-permitted additive used with some types of plastics to impart flexibility and other desirable qualities. Moreover, DEHA is the standard abbreviation for di(2-ethylhexyl) adipate, not diethylhydroxylamine as misstated in some email hoaxes.
MYTH: Using plastics in the microwave creates dioxins that can migrate into food.
FACT: The claim that plastic food wraps and containers can release dioxins in the microwave oven is misleading. First, the vast majority of plastics used in food wraps and packaging containers do not contain the chemical constituents that can form dioxins. Second, dioxins are a family of compounds that are produced by combustion at high temperatures. They can only be formed during combustion at temperatures typically above 700 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, even if all of the constituents were present, you also would need to have a very hot fire in your microwave oven, in which case you probably wouldn’t eat the food anyway.
According to FDA, “With regard to dioxins, we have seen no evidence that plastic containers or films contain dioxins and know of no reason why they would.”
When should you use a plastic product in the microwave? A variety of today’s plastic wraps, packages and containers are specially designed to withstand microwave temperatures. To make sure yours is one of them, check the item or its packaging label. Only use a product in the microwave if the manufacturer indicates that it is okay to do so and be sure to follow any specific instructions provided. If neither the item nor the package is marked, use a different container
MYTH: Freezing plastic water bottles releases dioxins into water.
FACT: The claim that plastic water bottles will release dioxins when frozen is entirely unfounded. So is the claim that plastic food wraps and containers can release dioxins in the microwave oven.
The vast majority of plastics used in food wraps, packaging containers and beverage bottles do not contain the chemical constituents that form dioxins. In addition, dioxins are a family of compounds that are produced by combustion at high temperatures. They can only be formed during combustion at temperatures typically above 700 degrees Fahrenheit; they cannot be formed at room temperature or in freezing temperatures.
According to FDA, “ With regard to dioxins, we have seen no evidence that plastic containers or films contain dioxins and know of no reason why they would.”
Don’t be fooled by fake IDs. To sound more believable, versions of this rumor falsely identify a health authority, such as Johns Hopkins University or Walter Reed Medical Center, as the source of the misinformation. Some versions even go so far as to include a person’s name and affiliation to give the appearance that a particular individual was the original sender. Tip: Always remember to verify the source before you forward an e-mail scare.
MYTH: Plastic food wraps and packages are made with phthalates.
FACT: The term “phthalates,” short for “orthophthalates,” refers to a class of additives, which are used in some plastic products, specifically products made with a particular type of plastic – polyvinyl chloride (also known as PVC or vinyl) – to make the material soft and flexible. Vinyl shower curtains, cable and wire, and flooring are examples of flexible PVC products that can contain phthalates.
Most plastic food packaging and storage items (e.g., containers, freezer trays, beverage bottles, resealable bags, etc.) are made with other types of plastics and do not require softening agents, such as phthalates.
Although certain specialized plastic food wraps are made with PVC, adipates and citrates are used as softeners instead of phthalates.
PET and Phthalates are not the same: Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is a type of plastic used extensively in food packaging applications like beverage bottles, microwavable trays and packaging films. Although “polyethylene terephthalate” (the plastic) and “phthalate” (the additive) may sound alike, they are chemically dissimilar. PET is not considered an orthophthalate, nor does PET require the use of softening additives.