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Shoppers Offered “Safe Plastic Tips”

September 26, 2008

Minneapolis, MN - Plastics and children's toys could be hazardous to your health. That warning comes from a statewide consumer group that promotes safe products. Healthy Legacy says new science on the chemical BPA links high concentrations to increased risk of heart complications, diabetes and liver damage. Spokeswoman Lindsay Dahl says BPA is used as a "building block" to harden surfaces.

"Bisphenol A is a synthetic estrogen used in plastic to make it strong and resilient. But unfortunately, chemicals like it leach out of the plastic and into our foods and liquids."

Healthy Legacy is offering shoppers consumer guides to safe plastics, including children's products. Those guides are available online at www.healthylegacy.org.

Because children are highly vulnerable because of their small body size, the consumer guides include safety tips for parents. The key is to check out the plastic in a product, she says.

"A good piece of advice is to be careful of what kinds of plastic are used. The general rule of thumb is to avoid a polycarbonate plastic, which is sometimes indicated as a 'PC' or a number seven on the bottom."

She says plastics have lots of problems: They're made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource; they create a lot of waste and pollution; and manufacturing plastics exposes workers to toxins.

Dahl says it's telling that shoppers need to worry about product safety.

"Consumers are just eagerly awaiting for the government to take action on phasing out these toxic chemicals. Ultimately, we're hoping that these consumer guides will become obsolete, and that the products will be safe and tested long before they hit the shelves."

The consumer booklets, "The Smart Plastics Guide" and "A Guide to Safe Children's Products," were published with help from the Minnesota Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. They are available at www.healthobservatory.org.

Jim Wishner/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - MN