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Plastic bottles Pexels

It’s impossible to imagine modern life without plastics. From the moment the day begins, we are using plastic. It’s in our toothbrushes, our shower curtains and our phones. We use it on on the way to work in bus seats, car dashboards, and bicycle helmets. We see it at lunch in takeout containers and disposable utensils. Whether you’re in your living room controlling the TV with a plastic remote or on the top of Mount Everest wearing cold-weather gear made with plastics, it’s there.

We rarely think about where it all comes from, but we should. According to a new report on the full life cycle of the world’s plastic production, the long-term environmental results are nothing short of a catastrophe. The report from the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) finds the production of plastics — from extraction to manufacture to disposal and steps in between — is a significant source of carbon pollution and set to become a major driver of climate change.

A scene from The Graduate Giphy

Plastics are made from fossil fuels. It takes energy to dig those fuels out of the ground, to process them, to ship them and, at the end of their lives, to dispose of them. The report estimates that current emissions from the production, manufacturing, transport, incineration, and degradation of plastic are roughly equivalent to the yearly emissions of around 200 coal-fired power plants this year. If trends hold up, by 2050, pollution from plastics will be closer to the yearly output of around 600 coal-fired power plants.

Humanity can only put so much carbon into the atmosphere and still meet the Paris Agreement’s long-term goal of limiting the global average temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius. That volume of carbon is known as the carbon budget. The study calculates that if the growth of plastics continues at its current pace, plastics will have eaten up around one-eighth of the carbon budget by 2050.

“We need to cut emissions by 45 percent by 2030,” says Carroll Muffett, president of CIEL, which produced the report. “Plastics are poised to do almost exactly the opposite.” He adds, “Once the plastics are released into the environment, they continue to impact the climate in perpetuity. Unless they are recycled, which the vast majority are not.” According to the EPA, only about 9 percent of plastic waste in the United States is recycled.

While other studies have calculated emissions from plastics at various stages of production and disposal of plastics, this report is the first of its kind to estimate the impact of plastic across its full life cycle. Most carbon emissions associated with plastics comes from the production phase of the life cycle, but even at the end of the cycle, plastics are a source of pollution.

Plastic garbage Pixabay

Most of the plastic ever produced has been released into the environment and persists in some form. What happens next is known. Turtles wind up with straws in their noses, dead whales wash ashore with almost 100 pounds of plastic in their stomachs, divers swim through currents of plastic pollution. Even at this stage, plastics are a source of carbon pollution.

When plastic particles like microplastics are exposed to sunlight, they continue to emit greenhouse gases. “And they never really stop,” says Rachel Labbé-Bellas, science programs manager at 5 Gyres, a nonprofit working to curb the use of plastics, and co-author of the report. “In relation to other parts of the life cycle, the contribution of ocean plastics to greenhouse gas emissions is small, but what is concerning is that plastic emits and never stops emitting.”

A growing hunger for plastics

Recently, 187 countries agreed to include plastic waste in the Basel convention — a global convention that regulates hazardous waste material — which the United States has never ratified. Over the last ten years, we have produced more plastic than during the entire last century and production isn’t slowing. Despite recent bans on plastic bags and plastic straws in many places, analysis from the World Economic Forum suggests plastic production will continue to grow in the coming decades.

“We are seeing rapid growth for plastics globally,” says Frederic Bauer, who studies energy systems at Lund University in Sweden and was not involved in the report. “Petrochemicals — and in particular, plastics — is the market segment that is driving growth in petroleum the most, according to several sources. There is nothing that seems to be slowing down that trend.”

This is bad news for the climate. “The impacts might look different depending on where you are in the life cycle,” Labbé-Bellas says. “But the problem of plastic pollution and climate change derives from the same source — the extraction of fossil fuels.”

Fracking and plastics

While the report looks at emissions from plastic production worldwide, it focuses on the United States, and for a good reason: Nowhere is the plastic industry development as fast as it is here, where new plastic plants are predominantly designed to use natural gas, as opposed to the oil-based production favored by much of the rest of the world. “We are seeing a rapid export of plastics technology based on natural gas that is linked to the plastics boom,” Muffet says.

Fracking on the Haynesville Shale in Northwest Louisiana Daniel Foster

The “shale rush” in the United States has not only supplied the country with massive amounts of fracked gas, it has also opened a market for the hydrocarbon ethane, which can be made into plastic. Between 2008 and 2023, ethane production in the US more than doubled, from around 700 thousand barrels a day of ethane to almost 1.5 million. By 2023, it is expected to reach 2 million barrels a day.

In 2023, Shell announced it would be building a multi-billion dollar “cracker” plant — a facility that breaks ethane into ethylene, which is used to make plastic like polyethylene. Polyethylene is the most common type of plastic used in single-use plastic packaging, the sector that makes up around 40 percent of global production and is the largest and most rapidly growing segment of the plastic economy.

Terrie Baumgardner is a 71-year old retired school teacher who lives six miles from the plant’s site. It’s being built in Potter Township, Pennsylvania, near major fracking sites at the center of the Utica shale basin. This natural gas won’t provide heat or propel engines. It will be turned into plastic. Baumgardner attended some of the first community meetings when Shell announced the plant. A representative, she says, “held up a small teddy bear and said, ‘We are going to be making the plastic that fills these.’” Baumgardner adds, “At that time, I don’t think anyone there had woken up to the threat that plastics posed to our environment.”

Baumgardner recently learned of four other ethane plants planned for her region, and she’s worried. “You have fracking feeding this on the one hand, including all the health and safety impacts that go along with that.” she says. “On the other hand, you have the climate change impacts along the entire line and the extensive pollution and human health impacts at the end — the injection wells, diesel trucking, mass transport, compressor stations. It is everywhere you turn.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — a United Nations body responsible for assessing the science related to climate change — concluded last year that keeping warming to no more than 1.5 degrees C is both necessary and achievable, but emphasized that to do so requires rapid and dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The new CIEL report puts a spotlight on the plastics industry’s massive infrastructure buildout happening at precisely the moment countries are waking up to the vast environmental damage caused by plastic. Much of the focus on the long-term impacts of plastics has been on the threat to wildlife, especially in oceans. As this report shows, plastics are also a growing threat to the climate.

Sarah Sax is a journalist based in Brooklyn. You can follow her @Sarah2theSax. Nexus Media is a syndicated newswire covering climate, energy, policy, art and culture.

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Ipod Touch – Does The Update Matter In Any Way?

It is time to welcome back the iPod. Apple has finally updated the iPod Touch after three years with a faster processor and a camera reminiscent of iPhone 5S, and it’s priced at $199.

The main question with this updated device is whether it is still relevant in 2023. Do not be mistaken though; the iPod Touch is right on spot with the legacy of Apple and proves to be an efficient device in itself, with better insides, and a retro iPhone 5s-like feel outside.

Design and Specifications

The design is nearly identical to the 2012 model but without the loop.

This is a svelte 4-inch device that looks like a thinner iPhone 5. The aluminum casing comes in gold, silver, space gray, pink, and red. Design-wise, the product looks a year or two old, along with chamfered edges, with the look of a baby iPad Air.

The new iPod Touch though sports a dual-core A8 processor and has a clocking speed at about 1GHz. The device is technically slower than the iPhone 6 but in reality, the speed should not matter much.

The A8 has a new graphics chip with support for Metal, the new graphical framework. The framework allows several game developers to work on the GPU so that games run faster and better than ever before.

The beefier chipset gives way to the good rear camera which supports 8 megapixels just like iPhone 6 though the detail is not as good as what you get on the new generation iPhones. The burst mode support, slow-motion video attributes, and HD recording support are the additional features. The front-facing FaceTime camera is nothing new with a better sensor though.

The iPod Touch supports health-related apps too.

Comparing with iPhone 6

The new iPod Touch is like a 4-inch iPhone 6 without the phone or the Touch ID and NFC support for Apple Pay.

But the elimination of these new features keeps the price low. The iPod Touch runs games like a champ and matches up to the standards set by iPhone 6.

The battery life is great too. The video playback time is expected to last up to 8 hours and the device charges quickly: 80% in two hours and a full charge in 4 hours. Plugging the device in also gets the phone a good boost too.

It supports 802.11ac WiFi, for quick access to the networks just like the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

Storage and capacity

The base model of the device sports 16GB of storage which is suitable to satisfy the basic users with some games and music stored. The $249 32GB version though offers better value and one can get the 64GB version for $299 while a 128GB model would have a price tag of $399.

The 128GB iPod Touch is a good alternative to the 160 GB iPod classic. The device also helps in streaming music services including the popular Apple Music or Spotify. Since it consists of flash drives, the performance is faster than in SSD disks.

Does anyone need an iPod Touch in 2023?

This is a question that nearly anyone would ask themselves, since there is no point in buying this device if you already have an iPhone 5S or later.

But for Android users who want to use Apple apps and the ecosystem, they might as well add an iPod Touch for use for workouts.

It does feel great though to have a smaller device and it fits right inside the pocket without any hassle. With the trend going in for larger, wider smartphones, this retro feel is something that some would prefer.

Most who prefer to buy the iPod Touch are known to be an older adult segment and kids under ten. This works as a separate device or a workout device for Android users who love Apple apps too.

The bigger issue is that kids would also actually prefer a bigger screen, such as with the iPad Mini 2. The same demographic would love to do things with a bigger screen rather than a puny retro screen of the iPod Touch. It is better for games and for older people to read or browse through the web easily.

Final Verdict

It is tough to find faults with iPod Touch since it is a pretty good device and pretty much more serviceable than any other too. But although it is the best iPod Touch after the original one which was released in 2008, one can’t see how it is relevant in the present device-rich world. Though it is the best iPod, iPhone users would not be investing in something that does not help in calls, athough some Apple lovers might want to buy this gadget too along with all the others that the giant company has been churning out in recent years.

Image Credit: Apple

The Easiest Way To Automatically Open Websites In Incognito Mode

Incognito Mode in Chrome is a popular feature because it allows you to browse in private; your history is not recorded and cookies are deleted after you close all incognito windows. If there are specific websites that you only visit in Chrome’s Incognito Mode, using an extension like Incognito-Filter can save you an extra step.

Usually, you’d have to open a new incognito window and then type the URL that you want to visit. By using this extension, you can add websites of your choosing to be opened directly in Incognito Mode whenever you enter them in the address bar.


Image Credit: only alice

Charnita Fance

Charnita has been a Freelance Writer & Professional Blogger since 2008. As an early adopter she loves trying out new apps and services. As a Windows, Mac, Linux and iOS user, she has a great love for bleeding edge technology. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.

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Another Day, Another Couple Of Zoom Vulnerabilities Discovered …

It seems hardly a day can go by without more Zoom vulnerabilities being discovered – with not just one but two more being revealed today …

The Verge reports that a group of security professionals were able to use brute-force attacks to access sensitive details about almost 2,400 Zoom meetings in a single day.

An automated tool developed by security researchers is able to find around 100 Zoom meeting IDs in an hour and information for nearly 2,400 Zoom meetings in a single day of scans, according to a new report from security expert Brian Krebs.

Security professional Trent Lo and members of SecKC, a Kansas City-based security meetup group, made a program called zWarDial that can automatically guess Zoom meeting IDs, which are nine to 11 digits long, and glean information about those meetings, according to the report.

In addition to being able to find around 100 meetings per hour, one instance of zWarDial can successfully determine a legitimate meeting ID 14 percent of the time, Lo told Krebs on Security. And as part of the nearly 2,400 upcoming or recurring Zoom meetings zWarDial found in a single day of scanning, the program extracted a meeting’s Zoom link, date and time, meeting organizer, and meeting topic, according to data Lo shared with Krebs on Security.

The number was so high it led Zoom to wonder whether its action in requiring passwords by default is not working.

“Passwords for new meetings have been enabled by default since late last year, unless account owners or admins opted out. We are looking into unique edge cases to determine whether, under certain circumstances, users unaffiliated with an account owner or administrator may not have had passwords switched on by default at the time that change was made.”

Additionally, The Intercept reports that Zoom’s encryption appears to have serious flaws.

Meetings on Zoom, the increasingly popular video conferencing service, are encrypted using an algorithm with serious, well-known weaknesses, and sometimes using keys issued by servers in China, even when meeting participants are all in North America, according to researchers at the University of Toronto […]

They conclude […] that Zoom’s service is “not suited for secrets” and that it may be legally obligated to disclose encryption keys to Chinese authorities and “responsive to pressure” from them.

The university also discovered that the form of encryption used is weaker than Zoom claims, and is a particularly poor implementation of the weaker standard.

The company claims that Zoom meetings are protected using 256-bit AES keys, but the Citizen Lab researchers confirmed the keys in use are actually only 128-bit. Such keys are still considered secure today, but over the last decade many companies have been moving to 256-bit keys instead.

Furthermore, Zoom encrypts and decrypts with AES using an algorithm called Electronic Codebook (ECB) mode, “which is well-understood to be a bad idea, because this mode of encryption preserves patterns in the input,” according to the Citizen Lab researchers. In fact, ECB is considered the worst of AES’s available modes.

The company is responding, but if you’re not already using one of the many alternatives out there, the latest Zoom vulnerabilities may persuade you to do so. Among my tech friends, Whereby seems to be a popular choice.

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How To Shovel Snow Without Hurting Yourself

Shovel snow like a boss. Deposit photos

Snow is a magical substance. You can use these flakes to build an igloo, whip up a batch of candy, or go sledding. But the frozen specks also bring a more onerous activity: shoveling sidewalks, walkways, and driveways. This seemingly endless task isn’t just annoying—it can also be deadly. It’s safe to say that no one ever wants to have a heart attack, but with COVID-19 cases causing record hospitalizations in many parts of the country, now would be a particularly terrible time to have a cardiac scare or be rushed to urgent care with a nasty pull or sprain.

That said, you can greatly minimize your risk by reducing the strain of this vigorous activity. Follow these tips to shovel snow without hurting yourself.

Pick the right moment to start

First, you have to decide when to start shoveling.

It’s usually best to wait until all the snow has fallen before getting out there with your shovel, says physical therapist Nicholas Licameli. That way, you don’t have to do the job twice.

This equation changes if snow is falling heavily for a full day or more, which adds up to a harrowing shoveling experience once the storm is done. In these instances, you can reduce your workload by going out once in the middle of the day. If you do an initial pass of your sidewalks and driveway earlier, you’ll have a smaller pile to tackle once the storm passes.

Choose the right shovel

As with many projects, selecting the right tool will make your task easier. In this case, that means shopping for the best snow shovel.

“I like the shovels that have the natural curve to them,” says Licameli. With that S-shape, you don’t have to bend over as far to lift snow off the ground.

The ideal shovel length will vary greatly person to person, depending on your height. When in doubt, go long. Again, this will help prevent excessive bending. If the handle seems too long, you can always adjust your grip to use the shovel more comfortably.

Another shovel trait that Licameli recommends: a sharp, metal edge on the very end. This will help you slice through thick snow and icy layers without exerting too much force. This will help you save energy and prevent injury.

Limber up

Shoveling snow might not seem as athletic as running a marathon, but it takes a surprisingly high toll on your heart. It’s hard work, and the particular motions and circumstances involved create a perfect storm for raising your blood pressure.

If you have an existing heart condition, you shouldn’t shovel snow without clearance from your doctor. But even if you’ve never had problems with your ticker, don’t make the mistake of jumping right in to hoisting large shovels of snow off the ground.

Instead, treat snow shoveling like you would any other form of vigorous exercise: start with a warm-up and end with a cool-down. Try one of these dynamic warm-ups while you’re still inside, then make sure you slowly ramp up your shoveling pace once you get to work. When you’re all done, take a few minutes to walk around and stretch.

Assume the proper stance

It’s important to shovel in the right position if you want to avoid injuries. First, make sure you have a “neutral spine,” says Licameli. This means your head, neck, mid- and lower back, and tailbone should all more or less line up with one another. Avoid excessive arching of your lower back or stooping your upper back and shoulders. Keep your spin aligned even when you go to scoop up some frozen fluff: Instead of bending your back, try to hinge at your hips and bend your knees.

When you move to take a shovel, back alignment isn’t your only concern. You should also try to engage all your core muscles, which will support your spine. To do so, brace your diaphragm and take a nice, deep breath. Pull up on your pelvic floor, with the same motion you would use when “holding in gas or urine,” says Licameli. Then, “tighten up the midsection—like putting on a tight belt after Thanksgiving dinner.” Combining all these actions will “make your spine the most stable that it could be.”

Licameli likens the spine to a neat stack of toilet paper. Tightening and engaging those core muscles is equivalent to wrapping your TP tower with duct tape. That will make it more stable and protect vertebrae from getting twisted out of line.

Clear one bit at a time

Wet, heavy snow can weigh quite a lot, so it’s important not to strain yourself by attempting to lift too much at once. If there’s a lot of snow on the ground, remove it layer by layer instead of trying to go down to the ground immediately.

Scoop a layer of snow and then use a forward motion to toss it diagonally off to the side of the path you are trying to clear. Alternatively, turn your whole body to toss it into a pile. Don’t twist your back to toss the snow away or fling it over your shoulder, warns Licameli: that can can cause back pain or injury.

It’s also important to switch up your stance every so often. If you’re leading with your left arm, that means you’re pushing with the right side of your body, which can quickly tire out that half. Licameli recommends switching sides every 10 shovels or so. There’s not much else to do while you’re shoveling snow, so you might as well keep count!

Take plenty of breaks

Instead of trying to power through all the snow shoveling at once, you should take regular breaks. The cold tends to numb us, says Licameli, so we don’t notice how tired or dehydrated we get in the same way we might in the heat of the summer. Taking intervals to rest and drink water (or hot cocoa) can prevent those symptoms from getting serious.

Going slow, taking breaks, and warming up periodically can also help prevent your risk of a heart attack. It’s easy to forget that snow shoveling is serious exercise, and if you have heart problems or are used to a more sedentary lifestyle, the exertion can cause quite a shock to your system.

Consider a snow blower

Even with all the best practices, shoveling is a real chore. “What’s easier is to either get a snow blower or move to Florida,” says Licameli.

Joking aside, a snow blower is more of an investment than a new shovel, so spend some time thinking about whether you really get enough snow to warrant the machinery. While price varies greatly by model, a snow blower can easily cost several hundred dollars.

Even if you do opt for a snow blower, using it requires the same neutral spine and core-stabilizing exercises that shoveling does, Licameli says. Keep your spine straight and the core engaged, take breaks, drink water, and take it one pass at a time. After all, you’re moving around a heavy piece of machinery. This can still be physically taxing, especially if you have to swing it around or it gets stuck in a deep patch of snow.

What it really comes down to is this: Treat your spine like a duct-taped stack of toilet paper. It sounds silly, but with that core protection, you’ll be ready for whatever old man winter throws your way.

This article was originally published on December 16, 2023. It has been updated.

The ‘Safer’ Plastics Designed To Replace Bpa May Be Just As Bad For You

A chemical called BHPF—found in some ‘BPA-Free’ plastics—may cause harmful outcomes in mice, according to a study published Tuesday in Nature Communications.

BPA, or Bisphenol A, has come under scrutiny in recent years, with studies suggesting that the chemical might mimic estrogen in the body in ways that are harmful to human health.

“In recent years, BPA was shown to have estrogenic activity, linking BPA to endocrine diseases and to an increased incidence of endocrine-related cancers,” lead study author Hu Jianying of Peking University told PopSci over email. “Because materials synthesized with BPA were widely used in packing materials for food and beverages, and BPA can be released into food from such containers, many countries have restricted or banned the use of BPA in materials or containers that come in contact with food, especially baby bottles for milk or water.”

Although BPA is not banned in the United States—in fact the US Food & Drug Administration ruled it safe for use in food packaging in 2014—manufacturers have still phased it out in response to consumer concerns. They’ve instead turned to plastics marketed as BPA-free, including BHPF.

In recent years, BHPF has shown up in all sorts of adhesives and plastic materials—everywhere from the aerospace and automobile industry to coatings used to protect floors. “So we are interested in the human exposure and risk due to the usage of BHPF,” Hu said.

The first step in that process was exposing cells—in this case yeast cells—to the chemical. Because BPA was known to be estrogen-like, the researchers exposed cells similar to those that bind with estrogen in humans. They discovered that while BPA mimics estrogen, BHPF actually blocks the hormone. This was confirmed via a computer model that simulates the effects of BHPF on cells. The model showed that BHPF fit into the antagonist pocket of estrogen receptor—it binds to an estrogen receptor but doesn’t elicit a response.

This sort of multi-step analysis is beneficial, says Maricel Maffini, because, “each step gives you more information and you can fine tune the type of testing you do next.” Maffini, who wasn’t involved in the new study, is a scientific consultant who works with public interest organizations and businesses on issues related to chemical safety—especially for chemicals that interact with our food.

The next step, in this case, was testing in animals. The researchers exposed four groups of pregnant mice to four different concentrations of BHPF. The mice exposed to BHPF experienced a host of pregnancy-related issues. This included low uterine weight, inflammation and thinning of the womb lining, and worse pregnancy outcomes. The mice exposed to the highest dose of BHPF had 24 percent fewer live pups per litter than the control group.

The study authors point out that we can’t extrapolate from mice onto humans. “[But] when you have a drug and you give it to animals, people take what happens to the animals pretty seriously and say this may happen in humans,” Maffini said. “Somehow there is a resistance to think the same way when we are testing chemicals. There is a tendency to say that the rat is not a human, the mouse is not a human, we don’t know if the same amount of chemical…is going to do anything to the human. We are different.”

And those knowledge gaps leave many concerned.

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals are especially concerning for children since these hormones guide so much of their development. Pexels

“In the U.S. there are no requirements for testing in animals unless a lot of the chemical gets into the food supply,” said Maffini. “There is definitely no requirement to test for potential endocrine disrupting properties in chemicals—not even doing a computer modeling study, or an invitro study, similar done to those that are done in report.”

Similarly, we tend to test individual ingredients that are used to make a particular product, but not the product itself.

“We can test sodium independently, we can test chloride independently, and get very bad, toxic data,” said Maffini, “but if we look at salt—the sodium and the chloride together—we’re going to have a very different picture of the toxicity.”

But none of this matters if we’re not coming into contact with BHFP—it’s only a potential problem if humans are exposed to it. To see if we are being exposed, Hu and his colleagues tested 100 students for the presence of BHFP. Seven percent of them tested positive for the chemical. The testing wasn’t done to prove that BHFP is harming human health, but rather serves to suggest that at least some of us are being potentially exposed to it—and that we need to look deeper into what this might mean. How dangerous might BHFP be, and how is it getting into our bodies?

We have some clues about the latter question: because BPA rose to such prominence due to its use in plastic drinking bottles, and because a lot of Chinese students drink boiled water out of plastic water bottles, Hu’s team tested polycarbonate bottles—both baby bottles (polycarbonate baby bottles are banned in China, so they had to purchase them from abroad) and adult drinking water bottles—for the presence for BHPF. They found that water samples taken from all three baby bottles tested positive for BHPF.

Similarly, they detected BHPF in water from two bottles made of Eastman Tritan’s BPA-free copolyester. It’s unclear if the bottles Hu tested are available in the United States. But the U.S. might not be regulating the use of BHPF at all. A survey of three FDA databases—Indirect Additives used in Food Contact Substances, Inventory of Effective Food Contact Substance (FCS) Notifications, and the Threshold of Regulation (TOR) Exemptions—failed to turn up references to either Fluorene-9-bisphenol or BHPF. If the FDA has deemed BHPF safe to use, it should show up in one of those databases.

In an emailed statement Eastman Tritan claimed that “no fluorene-9-bisphenol nor any other bisphenol analogs were added to Tritan,” and that “based on the chemistry of Tritan and the lack of bisphenol analogs, the results in this paper are not expected.”

The statement went on to note that in a 2012 study, researchers tested seven bottles made from Tritan resin and found that they did not release BPA “nor plasticizer or other substances.”

“Polymer migration testing and polymer chemistry can be very complex,” the statement added. “It is more likely that the detected substances were contamination from their lab equipment (other plastics, gaskets, seals, tubes, glassware, detergents for example) or the substances were misidentified.”

But in 2011, researchers on a different study found that most commercial plastic—including Tritan—leeches some kind of synthetic estrogen even when not exposed to microwaves, dishwashers, or boiling water, which are known to make plastics leech chemicals. Synthetic estrogens are worrisome, because estrogen hormones guide a host of biological processes—from growth, to puberty (even in boys, despite the fact that estrogen is considered a ‘female hormone), to reproduction. Eastman Tritan sued over the 2011 study and won.


It’s possible that both Tritan and the team sued in the 2011 lawsuit are technically correct—the two sides used different tests, and different definitions of estrogenic activity. Scientists are still trying to figure out what level of endocrine disruption can be considered safe, and the answer is likely different for each chemical. In the new study, researchers found that BHPF affected mice at much lower levels than BPA did.

The method of exposure matters, too. The FDA labels BPA as safe because it’s assumed that the primary mechanism of exposure is through eating and drinking, and the body excretes BPA in just six hours. But this ignores that some of us are drinking from containers made with BPA pretty much constantly, preventing us from ever fully expelling BPA from our bodies. Meanwhile, a number of studies looking at the presence of BPA in paper receipts have found that a significant amount enters the bloodstream by way of skin contact alone. A May 2023 study found that those of us who live near industrial sites can be exposed to a high level of BPA simply by living our lives as usual. It may very well be that the level of exposure from any single source might be low enough to be safe, but that the cumulative exposure could cause health problems. We don’t know yet—there needs to be more research.

“We think,” wrote Hu to PopSci, “that toxicity of substitutes should be assessed comprehensively, and regulations for substitution of chemicals should be developed in the future.” Otherwise, we risk introducing alternative materials that cause just as much harm.

“People shouldn’t be put in the position of selecting which are the safe products,” said Maffini, “the products should be safe.”

In the meantime, there’s always glass.

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