Home > NEWS > Cancer, kidney problems on the rise, courtesy plastic

Cancer, kidney problems on the rise, courtesy plastic

27,February, 2016
Dos and Don’ts
  • Carry your own glass—steel, or ceramic water bottle — filled with water
  • Reduce consumption of canned food
  • Use baby bottles with labels that say ‘BPA free’
  • Don’t cook food in plastic containers or use roasting/steaming bags as plastic residues may leach into food when heated in a regular or microwave oven
  • Use glass, porcelain, enamel-covered metal, or stainless steel pots, pans and containers for food and beverages whenever possible, especially if the food or drink is hot

Store food carefully

  • Proper food storage is important for keeping it safe to eat. Eating food that has not been stored properly can make a person sick, particularly if that storage container is a plastic that contains dangerous chemicals. Food should be stored in plastic bag designed only for that purpose. However, storing food in any plastic can be harmful to human health. When food is stored in plastic bags, these chemicals can leach into the food and then be ingested.

Doctorspeak

  • Whenever hot food or liquid is packed in a plastic bag, there is an exchange of toxic chemicals into the food. Those chemicals include styrene and bisphenol and may lead to cancer, heart diseases and other reproductive problems— Dr Deepak Gupta, a city-based gastroenterologist

Ludhiana, February 24 Several people are being diagnosed with kidney problems, throat ailments, infertility and cancer these days. Experts have attributed the rise in such cases largely due to people packing hot food in plastic bags. The plastic bags used for packing food are very dangerous as they contain polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride and polystyrene. 

With authorities planning to put a ban on the use of polythene, experts have heaved a sigh of relief as it will solve some of the major health-related issues.

Everyday several patients are seen visiting doctors because of developing problems after eating hot food packed in plastic bags.

Plastic poses serious environmental pollution as well.

“Whenever hot food or liquid is packed in a plastic bag there is an exchange of toxic chemicals into the food. Those chemicals include styrene and bisphenol and may lead to cancer, heart diseases and other reproductive problems,” said Dr Deepak Gupta, a city-based gastroenterologist.

In the past two years, the number of patients suffering from kidney, throat cancer and infertility has increased, he said.

Sous-vide cooking harmful too!

Apart from carrying food in plastic bags, another trend that has led to these ailments includes sous-vide cooking method. In this the food is cooked in water in a sealed plastic bag but below boiling temperature.

“When plastic is boiled, chemicals used to produce it can leach into the food being prepared due to high temperature. Common chemicals in plastic include BPA and phthalates. Some plastic bags will leach toxic fumes from the ink, glue and recycled materials used in making them,” said another city-based medicine expert Dr Gurmeet Singh.

Not only this, beware next time you consume tea, coffee or milk from tea vendors. Water in plastic containers is also unfit for human consumption because containers are usually exposed to direct sunlight when they are loaded onto trucks. A city-based cardiologist said at an average, a person already has around 2-3 gm plastic in his/her body.

“People are actually consuming plastic through food. They continue to store, eat and sometimes cook food in plastic containers as they are unaware of the harmful effects of consuming food stored, cooked or carried in plastic containers or packets,” he said.

Ban on plastic, thermocol items from April 1
Authorities to act tough

Ludhiana: Plastic bags and items made from thermocol will be banned completely in Punjab from April 1, 2016.

A notification regarding this was issued by the state government on February 18. It stresses on completely prohibiting manufacturing stock, distributing, recycling, selling or using plastic bags in the jurisdiction of all Municipal Corporations, Municipal Councils and Nagar Panchayats in Punjab.

For the implementation of the notification in true spirit, the state government has constituted teams under high-level officials, who will randomly conduct checks in the districts and those found guilty will be strictly punished as per the Punjab Plastic Carry Bags Control Act, 2005.

Chairman, Punjab Pollution Control Board, MS Chatwal said plastic carry bags were non-biodegradable, which choked everything.

"In many states, including Himachal Pradesh, carry bags are totally banned and people have accepted it for the sake of their health, health of birds and animals. We will make sure that the ban on carry bags is not taken lightly," he said.

As per the notification, no person shall manufacture any carry bag from virgin plastic of thickness not less than 30 microns and size not less than 8"x12" and of a colour, other than the specified colour.

Under the "Swachh Bharat Mission", the dream project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it must be ensured that the ban on plastic carry bags is implemented in toto, stresses the state government in its notification.

Traders, manufacturers seek alternative solution

The Plastic Manufacturers and Traders’ Association said banning carry bags was not a viable solution. "If we stop manufacturing and trading carry bags, what will the government do of packing material? From chips, pulses, dress material, electricity equipment and sanitary items among other things, everything is packed in plastic material. Will the government stop packaging material as well?" asked Pawanpreet Singh, an executive member of Plastic Manufacturers’ and Traders’ Association.

He said there were about 6,000 small scale industries (plastic carry bags) in Punjab and over 10 lakh people were getting bread and butter from this industry. He said the dangerous carry bags were coming from the states of Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. The government needs to strengthen its waste management programme as the ban was not a solution, he added.

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