Why You Should Avoid These 3 Types of Plastics

Updated on June 5, 2019
Ren Chin profile image

Ren has been a conscious consumer for a long time and has spent many years writing about product safety.

Plastic products with the number 7 recycling code.
Plastic products with the number 7 recycling code. | Source

This article will explore the dangers of certain plastics. We use plastic every day and can easily forget to check whether or not it is safe for us. With so many products out there, it can be hard to know what is safe and what is dangerous. This article is broken into seven sections to help address your concerns about plastics and other forms of packaging.

7 Things to Ask Yourself Before Using Plastic and Other Packaged Products

  1. What plastic numbers should you avoid?
  2. What do the numbers on plastic products mean?
  3. Are there any tips for using plastic safely?
  4. What numbers are the safest plastics?
  5. What is BPA and why is it in plastics?
  6. Is BPA in aluminum and metal bottles?
  7. Is BPA in canned food and packaged food?

We encounter so many plastic products when drinking and eating. Many of these products contain chemicals which can be very harmful to humans. Recent studies have provided evidence that several types of plastics are evidently unsafe for use.

1. Three Plastic Numbers That You Should Avoid

  • #3 Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
  • #6 Polystyrene (PS)
  • #7 Polycarbonate

These plastics are used in many everyday household products and often contain high levels of BPA. BPA is considered to be a hormone-disrupting chemical that is linked to autism, birth defects, reproductive problems and other health issues. You want to avoid using these plastic products so that you do not ingest bad chemicals along with your food and drink. What is most alarming is that many products made for babies and small children are made from these harmful plastic types. These include sippy cups and baby bottles. BPA is also found in the epoxy lining of metal containers including soup cans and drinking bottles.

Recycle Codes
Recycle Codes

2. What Do the Numbers on Plastic Products Mean?

Most plastic products are marked with a number that corresponds to the type of plastic that it is made of. The number, known as a "recycling code," can be found within the triangular recycling symbol (see above) that recyclable plastics are marked with. The plastics you want to avoid are numbers 3, 6, and 7. These are the types that can release nasty hormone disruptors and carcinogens into your food and drink.

Why You Should Avoid Plastic Numbers 3, 6, and 7

  • #3 Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) has di-2-ehtylhexyl phthalate (DEHP). DEHP is an endocrine disruptor and a likely human carcinogen.
  • #6 Polystyrene (PS) likely will leach styrene—which is another possible endocrine disruptor and probable human carcinogen—into your drink or food.
  • #7 Polycarbonate contains bisphenol-A, a hormone disruptor. This chemical can leach out when it is heated or exposed to acidic solutions. This type of plastic is very common in sports bottles and is used in most baby bottles and 5-gallon water jugs—watch for this one!

3. Tips for Using Plastic Safely

Below are some tips for some basic practices that you can adopt for safer "plastic use."

  • Use Baby Bottles made of tempered glass or polypropylene (#5) or polyethylene (#1) (these do not contain bisphenol-A).
  • Keep plastic products away from heat. Heat tends to promote the leaching of chemicals. Even the safer types of plastics (see below) may leach chemicals due to heat or prolonged storage.
  • Use reusable containers or cups with stainless steel or ceramic interiors are a good substitute for your plastic ones.
  • Do not reuse plastic drink bottles that were intended for single use.
  • Bottled drinks should be used quickly as chemicals from the plastic leach over time. Don't buy plastic bottles of drinks if it has been on store shelves for a long time.
  • Pay attention to the taste. If your drink has even a bit of a plastic taste to it, don't drink it!

5. What Is BPA and Why Is It in Plastics?

Bisphenol A, otherwise known as BPA, is a compound used to make polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. It is amongst the world's highest production volume chemicals. Over 8 billion pounds of BPA are manufactured every year. BPA is the offending chemical that poses such high health risks to consumers and is found in the plastics #3, 6, and 7. A study by the NIH, published in the September 2010 journal, Environmental Health Perspectives, links the ill effects of BPA on test rodents to negative impacts on humans (see sources at the bottom of this article).

4. What Numbers Are the Safest Plastics?

  • #1 polyethylene terephthalate
  • #2 High Density Polyethylene
  • #4 Low Density Polyethylene
  • #5 Polypropylene

BPA can be found in the epoxy resin lining of canned food
BPA can be found in the epoxy resin lining of canned food

6. Is BPA in Aluminum and Metal Bottles?

To combat corrosion, many metal water bottles (especially those made of aluminum) are lined with epoxy resins that can contain BPA. The February 2009 issue of Specialty News (an outdoors industry trade journal) reported that aluminum bottles with plastic liners made using epoxy are likely to contain BPA.

7. Is BPA in Canned Foods and Packaged Goods?

BPA can also be found in canned goods. Similar to the process of combating corrosion in aluminum and metal drinking bottles, manufacturers of canned goods often use epoxy resins to line the inside of cans. Whether it is a can of soup, vegetables, or tomato sauce the epoxy lining of the cans can contain harmful levels of BPA that can leach from the liners into the food. Metal lids of glass containers often also have an anti-corrosive epoxy lining that contains BPA—so just because your food is stored and contained in glass, it doesn't mean it is free of BPA exposure.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      3 days ago

      7907 Keller Ln

    • profile image

      nuke help 

      13 months ago

      im scared

    • profile image


      19 months ago

      Wrong #1 plastic has BPS , HORMONE DISRUPTOR

    • profile image

      Mary moscatello 

      2 years ago

      How do I know if tomato canned products I buy are BPA free. Product I purchase is 100 per cent made and packed in Italy?


    • GetFactsnotHype profile image


      5 years ago

      Very useful

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      BPA in plastics

      spelling error–chmeical–should be–chemical



    • Lady Tug profile image

      Kate Ann 

      6 years ago from United States

      I recently watched a video on netflix called "Addicted to Plastic" that you might find interesting. I already knew a lot about recycling and the harsh effects of plastic on our health and environment, but after watching the video, I was painfully aware of how oblivious I was to the real danger. Nice article!

    • muley84 profile image

      Michael A Muehleisen 

      7 years ago from Miami,FL

      Great Hub. I will use and share this info.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I wonder about water machines at work, either the large scale bottled water or the electric (UV?) purifying machines. I understand that the UV poses no risk with consumption, but I wonder about the machine itself, it's storage container and tubing.

    • profile image

      Christopher Renshaw 

      7 years ago

      Phone the manufacturer of any product and ask them, and if they contain BPA politely tell them that you are not going to buy any more of their products until you remove the BPA and let them know you are going to publish the facts to everyone that you know, the more people that do this the more manufacturers will remove them

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Why does the USA even allow use of these plastics is beyond me. Do not buy them and maybe they will go away............

    • profile image

      susan coffman 

      8 years ago

      does anyone know if BPA lined metal cans will leach chemicals into dry goods? we are canning things like tea bags, herbs, grains and other dry goods in cans with bpa linings. the manufacturer says there is little to no chemical leaching with dry goods -- only liquids. anyone have any info on that?

    • profile image


      8 years ago from Silicon Valley

      @Ren Chin: Unfortunately, there is a major error in this otherwise very helpful article. You ascribed two different meanings to recycling code 7: "Polycarbonate" and "Other". According to many sources, including http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plastic_recycling, the latter is correct. A plastic with recycling code 7 is often--but not always--made of polycarbonate or ABS. So yes, you should "watch for this one," but to determine whether "this one" contains BPA, you can't rely on codes alone.

      @Martina: When a product imprinted with recycling code 7 is from a responsible source and says "BPA-Free", it is not made of polycarbonate. The Rubbermaid BPA FAQ at http://www.rubbermaid.com/pages/LearnAboutBPA.aspx says "... no current Rubbermaid consumer food storage products contain BPA, phthalates, dioxins, adipates or other plasticizers—so they do not leach these sorts of chemicals under any circumstances, including microwaving and dishwashing". The FAQ also explains how you to tell whether your older Rubbermaid product contains BPA.

      I have no connection with Rubbermaid except my decades of buying, using and often liking their products. And I was NotPaidToSayThis.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      So, I just bought 30 piece set of Rubbermaid containers including lids. Box says BPA FREE - Does not contain Bisphenol-A. I liked it because it included 4oz containers which I wanted to use for baby food!! Well well, those BPA FREE containers have recycle code #7!!! DO NOT RELAY ON BPA FREE STICKERS, CHECK FOR CODES! Especially if you using containers for your children. These containers were Designed in USA and MADE in Malaysia. Now I'm more aware and using real BPA FREE containers, preferably US made.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      very useful especially in the present situation where lifestyle diseases are accounting for majority of casaulties, most of which can be avoided if we take a little care in such things

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I am receving a ResMed Positive airway Pressure Device today.

      I just discovered that the plastic used to make this product contains BPA. I know that I will not be drinking from this machine; but my concern is that I will be utilising it for my sleap apnea.

      I hope that This BPA chemical used does not have a negative effect on my body.

      I don't know how much is known about BPA used in the plastic for this device and it's use.

      Anyone knows?

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great information to know.Here after I'll check the numbers before buying plastic.Thanks

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Keep up the good work. I think somebody wants people to die faster with all the unsafe things going on in the food world. Lead in children's jewelry in toys in plates. Now plastics. FDA seems to be more incompetent ever year. Their rules and regulations don't seem to be followed and violations are a slap on the hand. LOVE THE TERM THEY USE "NO KNOWN HEALTH EFFECTS" doesn't mean there isn't any!!!!! Now we know why the autism in children is 1 to every 50 children in the USA. our children are loaded with unhealthy chemicals.

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 

      12 years ago from San Francisco

      Great info. Bisphenol-A and phthalates are dangerous and should our exposure to them should be minimized. Thank you for providing this resource.

    • PlayaNorte profile image


      12 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      very informative, i can never remember which numbers are which so I am going to bookmark this page

    • desert blondie profile image

      desert blondie 

      12 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen

      Thanks for this information! I always thought the numbers were purely some sort of abstract recycling code, not that the code refers to the ingredients in the plastic...very helpful!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, youmemindbody.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)