By: Don Loepp
March 29, 2013
Get ready for another wave of headlines that attempts to inform the public about which plastics are good -- and which ones are bad.
Gawker Media's science blog io9.com yesterday posted a long item headlined "How to recognize plastics that are hazardous to your health."
I've seen articles like this before, rating plastics based on chemical safety issues, giving a clean bill of health to some and advising consumers to avoid others.
This column is pretty ambitious. It's goal, according to authors -- George Dvorsky and Joseph Bennington-Castro -- is to give readers "everything [they] need to know about plastic and its impact on your health."
They include lots of citations and links, and note that, "Where possible, we've made note of which studies involve nonhuman animal test subjects, and when toxicity levels fall below dangerous levels. You should interpret and use this information in a way that satisfies you."
I imagine that typical io9.com blog readers pay attention to that sort of disclaimer and will give the column the necessary perspective. In fact, the comment section so far seems to indicate that readers are pretty sane and understand exactly what these issues mean and how dangerous the various materials really are.
Still, I imagine that some readers will ignore all that and just focus on the message that certain plastics are good, others are bad, and some are very bad.
Heaven help us when the local TV news reporters try to rehash this.
One more note about the post: There's one major difference in this column that doesn't typically show up in news coverage of good vs. bad plastics. This time, the bloggers cite PET as a plastic that's considered safe, but then they bring up some potential issues, mostly related to antimony.
That might scare some folks who generally think that the No. 1 recycling code or the PETE symbol is A-OK.
I expect the plastics industry to be working overtime on damage control on this post, and I encourage Plastics Blog readers to share your comments, both here and on the io9.com website.