Plastic containers have become a necessity of life, wherein plastic containers are used to store food items to medicines and many more things. Kitchen food items like pulses, bread, packaged food, milk, ghee, etc all come in plastic packaging. Not only the food items which are sold in the market are in plastic packaging but when we store them in our homes, it is also in the plastic containers. Some of these plastic containers can be deemed safe and some not. The plastic materials available with the road side venders are certainly not safe for food products, but still people are buying them because they are cheap. More details by Shivam Agnihotri:

Do the people have any inclination about the quality of plastic which is used in making these containers? Plastic products available at small footpath shops, weekly footpath markets are all of low quality plastic which cause grave health problems to the users.

Plastic is Harmful

According to a scientist of Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (IITR) Lucknow, pure plastic which cannot dissolve in water and in which bio-chemicals are not active is not harmful to the health of the user. But when other plastics, chemicals and colour are mixed in it, these plastics become harmful when they are heated to a certain temperature. Keeping in the view the harmful effects of such plastics, American Government has banned the use of such plastics in toys and other child care products. In the year 2005 Europe also banned products made of such plastic and in tune Japan and 9 other countries joined the list.

Harmful Chemicals in Plastic Products

Wisphenol is used in the manufacturing of plastic products to provide sturdiness to the plastic and is used in products like baby bottles, CD covers other food and beverages containers. Plastic products made of Polycarbonate (PC) and Polyvinylide chloride are also harmful. Chemical Bicepnol-A used in production of plastic products is proven to cause hormonal imbalance in human, which has major repercussion on human health. Plastic products also contain various colouring chemicals which ultimately enter our body and blood stream, which cause serious illnesses.

Differentiating Food Grade and Non Food Grade Plastic

Every plastic container should have an ISI mark on the back side to ensure it is safe for food products. Every quality plastic product should have the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) hallmark on it. A mark of three arrows moving clock wise with a number inscribed in-between them is used to gauze the quality of the product and these symbols are called Resins Identification Code System (RIC). More information on the food grade symbols:-

Table

Meaning of Plastic Rating Symbols (Food Grade Plastic)

Grade Made of Safety/ Used in
1. Polyethylene-terephthalate Safe for packaging
2. High-density polyethylene Safe for packaging and used in milk, water, etc bottles, yogurt packaging, retail bags
3. Polyvinylide chloride Used in confectionary items, dairy products, sauce, meat, herbal products, spices, tea, coffee, etc
4. Low-density polyethylene Used in outdoor furniture, siding, floor tiles, shower curtain
5. Polypropylene Used in bottle caps, drinking straw, yogurt container, plastic pressure pipe system, packaging of first aids products, cleaning agents
6. Polystaryene Used in foam packaging, food containers, plastic tableware, disposable cups-plates, cutlery, CD (difficult to recycle)
7. Others Used in CD, sipper, sunglasses, ketchup container (but may also contain harmful Bicepnol-A)

Plastic Causes Various Illnesses

Cancer- Use of low quality plastic in bottles, glass, lunch boxes, containers, etc leads to illnesses like cancer. When these plastic products get heated, they secrete dioxin chemical which increases the risk of breast cancer.

Metal Faculty is affected- Bicepnol-A effects the nervous system of the body which hampers the reaction and retaining capacity of the brain. It can even lead to alzheimer’s disease and stomach problems.

Chances of abortion- Females who have pregnancy problems or have faced abortion should not use plastic products for storing food. Low quality plastic also affects the quality and number of sperms in males.

Concerned Authority

No rules and regulations are in place regarding the use of plastic products. Plastics bags have been banned by the government but no such rule has been issued for low-quality plastic containers.

Regional Officer of Pollution Control Board Dr. Ram Karan says that the authority to ban such product lies with the board but no such restrictions have been issued till date.

Awareness among the Public

Discriminating plastic is not a tedious task, the public just needs to be aware about the procedure to check the quality of the product. Such awareness programes should be started by the Government so as to stop the grave illnesses caused by use of non food grade plastic.