By Mae Chan
Guest Writer for Wake Up World
As a society, we just can’t seem to shake our excessive use for disposable cups in exchange for our convenience. If you use your own glass cup or mug, you’re as safe as the water you drink. Take that same drink from a foam cup or plastic cup and it is a very different story. Different variations of polyethylene and paraffin line almost every disposable cup on the market. These linings, especially among low quality cups can indeed melt and get into your digestive tract leading to gastrointestinal disorders and other health issues. Exposure to BPA has only been one issue relating to disposable cups. They have been shown to interfere with reproductive development in animals and has been linked with cardiovascular disease and diabetes in humans.
However paraffin wax and polystyrene products are also an issue even without BPA linings.
Paraffin wax is well known but it’s actually derived from crude oil and dates back to Carl Reichenbach in 1830. Paraffin is classified as an alkane hydrocarbon. Paraffin is made from that same crude oil which makes everything possible including plastics, household chemicals, furniture, gasoline and house paint to name only a few. And you can easily consume paraffin without even knowing it.
Because polystyrene products are so common, many people assume they are safe, and that a government agency, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), would not allow a health-threatening product to be marketed to the public. But past EPA National Human Adipose Tissue Surveys have identified styrene residues in 100% of all samples of human fat tissue taken in the US. Styrene is used to make polystyrene plastic and is a contaminant in all polystyrene foam packages.
The Foundation for Advancements in Science and Education also found styrene in human fatty tissue with a frequency of 100% at levels from 8 to 350 nanograms/gram (ng/g). The 350 ng/g level is one third of levels known to cause neurotoxic symptoms. The cups apparently lose weight during the time they are at use. The studies showed that tea with lemon produced the most marked change in the weight of the foam cup.
Polystyrene can adversely affect humans in a number of ways raising serious public health and safety questions regarding its build-up in human tissue and the root cause of this build- up. According to a Foundation for Achievements in Science and Education fact sheet, long term exposure to small quantities can cause neurotoxic (fatigue, nervousness, difficulty sleeping), hematological (low platelet and hemoglobin values), cytogenetic (chromosomal and lymphatic abnormalities), and carcinogenic effects.
Polystyrene containers include coffee cups, soup bowls and salad boxes, foam egg cartons, produce and meat trays, disposable utensils (plastic-ware). Non-food uses of styrene include packing “peanuts”, foam inserts to ship appliances/electronics and many miscellaneous products.
There are definite standards to follow while manufacturing these disposable paper cups. This ensures that paper cups do not become toxic when soaked in water or hot liquids. However, some unscrupulous traders and small workshop manufacturers do not follow these guidelines. In order to reduce the cost of paper cups production, they can use industrial wax and harmful waste plastic, which again may not meet the standards of manufacturing. And so, use of these paper cups can definitely effect your health in long term.
The wax material and chemicals in low quality disposable paper cups can indeed melt and get into your digestive tract. In the long run, this can lead to gastrointestinal disorders and other health issues.
Consider hot coffee poured into a polystyrene cup. What happens? “The migration of styrene from a polystyrene cup into the beverage it contains has been observed to be as high as 0.025% for a single use. That may seem like a rather low number, until you work it this way: If you drink beverages from polystyrene cups four times a day for three years, you may have consumed about one foam cup’s worth of styrene along with your beverages.”
Polystyrene nanoparticles also affect the absorption process and cause a physiological response.
It’s difficult (and sickening) to imagine eating Styrene plastic in any quantity.
But the problem doesn’t stop with container chemistry. Fat products in food as well as acidic products can leach more polystyrene out of the plastic than water does. Long-term exposure to small quantities of styrene is also suspected of causing:
* Low platelet counts or hemoglobin values;
* Chromosomal and lymphatic abnormalities;
* Neurotoxic effects due to accumulation of styrene in the tissues of the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves, resulting in fatigue, nervousness, difficulty sleeping, and other acute or chronic health problems associated with the nervous system.
There are measurable levels of styrene in both unprocessed and processed foods
Note how foods higher in fats leach more styrene out of the plastic, and this list is far from being all inclusive! There are the plastics that microwave food is packaged in. There is still a toxin threat even if they heat those items up in a conventional oven instead of using a microwave.
There are measurable levels of styrene in both unprocessed and processed foods as shown below:
|UNPROCESSED FOOD||STYRENE LEVEL (ppb)|
|Cinnamon||170 – 39,000|
|Beef||5.3 – 6.4|
|Black currants||2 – 6|
|Coffee Beans||1.6 – 6.4|
|Peanuts||1 – 2.2|
|Strawberries||0.37 – 3.1|
|Wheat||0.4 – 2|
|PROCESSED FOOD||STYRENE LEVEL (ppb)|
Also, these paper, styrofoam and plastic cups also have harmful effects on the environment. Most disposable products do not decompose in a landfill, or may release dangerous gases like methane if decomposed anaerobically. The polyethylene that is used in preparing many brands of cups is made from petroleum or natural gas. It is not biodegradable without special treatment, and therefore accumulates. Moreover, this plastic resin prevents recycling of paper cups, which in turn demands more paper, harming the environment again, in the form of deforestation.
The solution? Use your own glass container or thermos of which there are no many on the market. Some are stainless steel glass bottles are also being made where the lining is glass and the outside steel shell prevents breaking.
Previous articles by Mae:
- Vitamin D Improves Mood, Cognition and Pain Tolerance
World’s Largest Solar Thermal Power Project Capable Of Providing Clean Energy To 140,000 Homes
Hemp Seed Oil a Valuable Source of Bioactive Compounds for Food and Cosmetic Industry
- Canadian Researchers Discover Evidence That Vitamin D Shuts Down Cancer Cells
- Refrigerated Fruit Loses 80% of Antioxidant Properties…. So Why Not Freeze Dry?
- Just One Dose of Vitamin D Can Prevent The Progression of Multiple Sclerosis: 9 Day Remission In 92 Percent of Subjects
About the author:
Mae Chan holds degrees in both physiology and nutritional sciences. She is also blogger and and technology enthusiast with a passion for disseminating information about health.
This article was reposted with the express permission of the kind crew at preventdisease.com