In an article published on May 11, 2018 by the global alliance Plastic Pollution Coalition (PPC), Sandra Curtis informed about a new pilot study that “demonstrated that changing behavior can reduce the health hazards associated with the toxic chemicals in plastic.” The study was conducted by PPC and Child Health and Development Studies with funding from the California Breast Cancer Research Program.
A total of 93 participants took part in a 45-minute education program about exposure to estrogenic chemicals in plastic and their potential health effects. The participants were instructed to take the following steps for one month to reduce their use of plastic: 1) Use glass or stainless steel water bottles, 2) do not microwave food in plastic containers, 3) store food in glass or ceramic containers, 4) do not consume canned foods and beverages, 5) reduce consumption of take-out food, and 6) do not handle receipts with bare hands or wash hands with soap and water afterwards. “A basic assumption of the study was that 80 percent of people’s exposure to the estrogenic chemicals in plastic come from food purchase, preparation, and storage,” Curtis explained.
A subset of 19 participants provided blood samples before and after the trial month to measure total estrogenic activity. For 13 of the 19 participants, estrogenic activity decreased after following the instructed steps. However, the report notes that the study could not “link this decrease in estrogen activity to any particular behavior change.” Also, it was not clear “whether the estrogen activity decrease was related to some behavior that we did not measure in the study,” the report reads. Further verification of the results is needed because “this result was observed in a small sample without a control group for comparison.”
Overall, the report concluded that the study was “successful at reducing exposures to harmful chemicals in plastic” by promoting significant behavior change in participants. Further, the study was successful at promoting participants to spread the study messages in their communities. Lastly, the blood samples provided “very promising preliminary results that need further testing.”
Sandra Curtis (May 11, 2018). “New: ‘ReThink Plastic’ reduced exposures to harmful chemicals in plastic which mimic estrogen.” Plastic Pollution Coalition
Katherine Martinko (May 17, 2018). “Using less plastic reduces harmful chemicals in the body in as little as a month.” Care2
Plastic Pollution Coalition, California Breast Cancer Research Program, Public Health Institute, and Child Health and Development Studies (March 2018). “ReThink Plastic pilot study community report.” (pdf)