sea of plastic
© Caroline Power Photography
The late comedian, George Carlin, once joked that humans exist because the Earth wants plastic. It was a great bit but what plastic is doing to humans is no laughing matter. Made from petroleum, plastic products are ubiquitous. Plastic, and its chemical components of BPA and phthalates, is in medical devices, compact discs, dental sealants, water bottles, the lining of canned foods and drinks and even cash register receipts. As with nearly all manmade chemicals, BPA and phthalates have some nasty effects. They have been implicated as endocrine disruptors, harming the natural balance of hormones in both males and females. BPA has a particularly insidious effect on males (human and animal alike) causing delayed puberty, falling sperm counts, shrinking size of genitals, feminization and much more.

Join us for this episode of The Health and Wellness Show where we discuss the drastic plastic situation and how you can decrease your exposure to this planetary scourge.

Running Time: 01:14:29

Download: MP3

Here's the transcript of the show:

Jonathan: Welcome to the Health & Wellness Show everybody. Today is Friday, March 23, 2018. Joining me in our virtual studio from all over the planet we have Doug, Erica, Tiffany, Gaby and Elliot. Hey guys.

All: Hellos.

Jonathan: So our topic today is Not to Get Drastic But the Plastic is Making Us Spastic. So we'll pat ourselves on the back for a clever pun. [laughter] We want to start today's show with a short clip, so let's do that and then we'll come right back and get started.

George Carlin: The earth doesn't share our prejudice towards plastic. Plastic came out of the earth. The earth probably sees plastic as just another one of its children. Could be the only reason the earth allowed us to be spawned from it in the first place. It wanted plastic for itself. Didn't know how to make it. Needed us. Could be the answer to our age-old philosophical question, 'Why are we here?' "Plastic! Assholes!" So the plastic is here. Our job is done. We can be phased out now. And I think that's really started already, don't you?

Jonathan: Alright, thanks George. That speaks to something I've been thinking about a lot lately which is that idea of what is natural. So is stuff that humans make that we call unnatural, is it actually natural because we're part of the environment? Are cities natural the same way that anthills and such are?

Doug: That's a good question. I was about to go riff on it but...

Jonathan: Let's do it.

Doug: I wonder if there's a line, certain things are natural. If you build a house out of relatively - well it's hard to talk about it without using a loaded term - but using natural materials, is that more natural than if you're using things that are more synthesized? I don't know where the line is so it is actually very difficult to talk about it. I would say that GMOs crosses the line because those are no longer natural. You're actually messing with the genetic code, the code that was naturally a part - it's hard to say this - but that was naturally part of nature.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Doug: And you're actually taking that code and you're messing with it. I think that crosses the line but I don't know. Could you say glyphosate?

Erica: Could you say plastic because it is petroleum based?

Jonathan: In my mind, at least where I'm at right now is the idea that stuff that wouldn't otherwise be made if we didn't reconstitute base elements, if that makes sense. So you can argue that humans are part of the natural world and the whole discussion of cities and stuff is interesting, but when you really get down to it, we're taking stuff out of the ground using chemistry to distill it or however it happens, and then reconstituting something else. At that point you might call it unnatural. So I don't know.

Erica: Or man-made.

Gaby: Maybe your responsibility has a very important role because yes, stuff that man has made has made our lives much more comfortable and easier to the point you see there is an entire continent in the ocean made out of plastic, yeah. That feels more than natural!

Jonathan: Yeah, it feels unnatural.

Tiffany: I think the line is, does it do harm to humans or the environment. That's the line. And if you cross that line then you're naughty.

Doug: Well, it's tricky. I think some things we can think of as being natural still might do some sort of harm, at least to the immediate environment. They might not have planet-wide consequences but just building a village of 500 people, there's going to be waste produced. You're cutting down forest or something like to make room so what exactly is harm and what isn't harm?

Tiffany: But we need some place to live! We need shelter.

Doug: Yeah, that's true.

Tiffany: There's going to be waste whether we live in a house or not. You have to poop somewhere.

Doug: You have to poop somewhere. That's the thing.

Jonathan: It's pretty complex. You could say hemp bricks - which they make now and you can make your house out of hemp bricks. It's extremely resilient. I don't necessarily know if it's affordable yet but you would call that natural, but it requires technology to make. So again, where's the line?

Doug: But then there's also those earthship houses where they take old tires and fill them with stuff. But that's considered a relatively environmentally friendly at least, building method.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Erica: That's kind of the whole concept of one man's trash is another man's treasure. I've seen those earthships made with clay or hay and clay mix and then glass bottles.

Tiffany: But it's not like it's just bare tires that are your walls. They're surrounded by clay or a sod mix so you don't have to smell like tires in your house. But I think using the tires is a good way to recycle old stuff that we don't use for anything else.

Doug: Yeah!

Tiffany: But tires themselves are useful. Just imagine all the automobiles and all the connecting bits of that conveys.

Doug: But that's what I mean. What percentage of tires are being used for earthship and what percentage...

Tiffany: Not many.

Doug: ...just end up off in a dump somewhere and very slowly degrading and poisoning the environment.

Erica: Well they burn them, like Jonathan was saying, at least in the US they do.

Jonathan: Yeah it's true. On the 4th of July a few years ago we actually had a neighbour burning a bunch of tires and the neighbourhood thought that a house was on fire and ran over there. It smelled awful for three days.

Tiffany: But what makes plastic so bad is that it's used in billions of products and a lot of times it's used just once and thrown away.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Elliot: And also the problem is that it doesn't technically degrade, for a very long time anyway, so it may seem like it's degrading. It may fall apart, it becomes really brittle, but actually it's not being degraded. It's just falling apart into lots of really tiny, tiny pieces that you or I can't really see. And so that is causing a big problem for humans and for other animals and I guess the planet in general. In the sea for instance, there's a whole load of plastic which is dissolved into tiny pieces that animals can't see, sea life can't see. So these guys are swallowing this stuff and it's becoming chelated into their tissues.

Erica: Yeah, they're called nurdles. That's actually the technical name for it, a nurdle.

Jonathan: Oh wow.

Doug: Which is a microplastic.

Erica: A microplastic, yeah.

Jonathan: If you were to ask around I think most people are aware, yeah I've heard of some giant plastic island in the ocean where all the bags go. Maybe a lot of people don't know that but I think it's fairly commonly known at least in the back of your mind. But what is less commonly known is what Elliot was referring to, which is that it's everywhere. It's in the whole ocean in microscopic particles.

Erica: And on land.

Doug: Yeah. And in the air.

Jonathan: Right.

Doug: There's clouds of the stuff.

Gaby: So you can literally not go anywhere in the world to avoid it. It's everywhere.

Doug: No. So we're actually covered in it.

Jonathan: We're totally screwed. End of show.

Doug: It's in your house. It's everywhere. I was actually surprised in doing research for the show and finding out that one big expeller of plastic into the air is actually people's dryers.

Tiffany: What?

Doug: People take their clothes, if they're made of a synthetic material, you know there's the lint trap, but that doesn't catch everything. If it's a really small particle it will get through that, no problem. And then that gets expelled into the air. So every time anybody's drying clothes you've got plastic flying out into the air.

Erica: And isn't polyester essentially plastic?

Doug: Probably.

Jonathan: Yeah. Fleece. I remember when I learned that it blew my mind and I guess that's also commonly known, but it blew my mind that fleece is made of recycled plastic.

Gaby: Clothing, right?

Jonathan: Yeah.

Tiffany: But it's so comfortable! {laughter}

Jonathan: I know.

Gaby: No way!

Tiffany: It's so soft. I'll never wear fleece again.

Erica: I'll never dry my clothes again.

Doug: Hang them to dry. It's the responsible thing to do. It's crazy though. If you just even look around you right now and realize how much plastic you're actually surrounded by, it's actually kind of crazy. Plastic is huge.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Doug: Remember the movie The Graduate? There's a scene in that movie. It's from the 1960s or 70s. At one point it's about a guy who doesn't know what to do once he has graduated university. One guy comes up to him and says "Let me tell you something. The future is plastics!" {laughter} It's kind of a comical scene but at the same time he was right. We are surrounded by plastic. If you got in on the ground floor of plastic, you're laughing.

Jonathan: Oh man! Yeah, totally.

Elliot: That's a really good point though because I ask every listener of this show today to look around the room that they're sitting in because I'm looking around mine right now and I swear most of it's plastic. Half of the stuff's plastic, even my clothes, like you just said, polyester. Some of it's cotton, the rest of it's probably just recycled plastic whereas you go back 100 years ago and it wouldn't have been like that. That's a really crazy thing that is really huge.

Gaby: Wow, my vaporizer is made out of plastic. {laughter}

Doug: Computer, the computer mouse.

Jonathan: Yeah. Even get down to stuff that people use and ingest on purpose like cooking utensils and stuff. Granted, more stuff now is silicone if you're looking at the big box stores and you're looking at kitchen stuff, but for the longest time I used plastic spatulas and stuff like that. It's awful. And over time you can see they melt and they get flat on the end of the spatula and it doesn't cross your mind...

Doug: "I'm eating that."

Jonathan: Yeah.

Erica: Well just think of the whole Tupperware revolution too. Before Tupperware mason jars or glass was used or even some sort of metal or copper and then all of a sudden this Tupperware revolution came around and everyone has Tupperware.

Tiffany: But we don't call it Tupperware anymore.

Erica: What's it called?

Tiffany: That's old fashioned. {laughter}

Jonathan: I still call them Tupperwares. I don't know what you're talking about. {laughter} So let's talk a little bit about the constituents and get kind of sciencey for a minute. So BPA. We can talk about what actually is BPA, so bisphenol A is a chemical that's used to harden plastics. So that's the whole thing. Probably everybody in the world, at least everybody in the United States and Europe has heard the term 'BPA-free'. It's so overplayed now. I get it and I like it. I'm looking for BPA-free stuff but I think it has turned into a buzzword because nobody knows what the hell BPA actually is. It's just the bad plastic thing.

Doug: Essentially it's an endocrine disruptor. So that means that it is an oestrogen mimicker. It will mimic oestrogen in the body so all the receptors that you have in the body that are meant to receive oestrogen will actually receive the BPA instead. That essentially increases the oestrogen. Let's go to Elliot. Elliot, {laughter} what's an oestrogen disrupter/oestrogen mimicker?

Elliot: That was basically correct. The idea is that you've supposedly got these receptors which have a specific shape or whatever they say, and when oestrogen, which is a hormone, comes along to the target area and it attaches to this receptor on the cell. Then what that will typically do is initiate a cascade of responses which will upregulate the transcription of certain genes or downregulate the transcription of other genes and perform a specific function.

So what BPA does is it can essentially exert the same effects that oestrogen can effect on those receptors. So even if you don't have a lot of oestrogen circulating around, like your body says "actually I don't really need that much oestrogen", but you are exposed to plastics, then the BPA is going to act like an oestrogen in your body and your cells are going to respond in the same way that they would as if you have loads of oestrogen floating around.

Erica: I think BPA was first used in the1950s if I'm remembering correctly.

Doug: I thought it was an antibiotic or maybe I'm mixing it up with something else.

Erica: But it was used for hormone regulation until they found it had pretty bad results.

Gaby: I think they found out if you put it in cell lines from the breast it will become cancerous and then they determined that it was the BPA on the plastic where the holder of the cells were made out of plastic.

Jonathan: Oh wow! I was going to ask Elliot, if you can, what does the body do when it thinks there is a lot of oestrogen but there's not actually? What happens there?

Elliot: I guess it would depend on the context.

Jonathan: Sure.

Elliot: But I guess you have to look at the fundamental roles that oestrogen plays. In a woman's menstrual cycle, oestrogen is involved in the growth of the endometrial tissue which is the lining of the reproductive tract. It's what women shed, this extra tissue, when they have a period. The blood and the stuff that comes out when a woman has a period, has been grown at a stage in the menstrual cycle because of the effects of oestrogen. So oestrogen's fundamental message is to grow tissue, to suppress other functions but to promote the growth.

That's really useful for a woman's period or in pregnancy or in other scenarios but when that happens chronically, when that's not an endogenous thing, when you're body's not deciding that it wants it - say there's some external factor which has that oestrogenic effect, then what it can do, as Gaby just says, you can cause cancer directly by an oestrogenic substance. If you look at what it does to the mitochondria, it increases oxidative phosphorylation but really, really, really fast. It's like it increase energy production at rapid speeds so that the tissue can grow, but the tissue can't do much else at that point.

Without going into loads of detail it's growth of tissue and you don't really want that all of the time. If you're a female, yeah you want that once every month but you don't want that 24/7. And if you're a male, you definitely don't want that!

Gaby: What if you're a little girl and you don't want to have menstruations?

Erica: Eight years old.

Elliot: Exactly. If you don't want to come onto puberty when you're seven years old, then it's no good, but the xenoestrogen can have the same effect to initiate early stage puberty.

Jonathan: One of the articles that we were reading for the show today was about phthalates. I think that this has been published in other areas too, don't quote me on that, but the recent study at the University of Rochester found that phthalates, which is found in vinyl and plastics tends to "feminize" boys, altering their brain to express more feminine characteristics. I know I've mentioned on the show before this guy Dr. Tent. He's a naturopath/chiropractor from Michigan near Detroit and he talks about this. He has a talk called Where Did All the Men Go? and it's about that and about the altering of the basic biochemistry of the human genders through corruption by these chemicals in our environment.

We can narrow it down to what we're talking about. I'm trying to make this simple for the lay person to think about because it's hard for me to think about too. What do you mean, this feminizes men? I don't get it. Why doesn't it masculinize women? I think it's important to delve into it and understand what the components are. So it's very interesting I think, that we see that it's invading the body, kind of like a Trojan horse and them mimicking our "natural" processes.

Erica: Also there's a documentary out, I think it's about 45 minutes long, called The Disappearing Male and there was a lot of research done again in Rochester because they were having high incidents of miscarriages and a lot of baby boys not being born, killing of sperm, up to 50%. This documentary was made 10 or 15 years ago but it's very scary to hear these scientists talk about it and how, like you're saying, the disappearing male, that lack of wanting to do rough house playing. They even did studies where boys were more drawn to dolls or not "boy toys". So it's really disturbing actually.

Elliot: You don't even have to look at the science. You can just look around you today. Let's be honest! Seriously how many feminine men are there now? How many transgender folk are there now? How many men walk around wearing makeup? There are plenty and that wasn't happening back then. I guess you could say that is lots of different factors. There are all these other influences but it seems kind of rational to go along with the idea that maybe the plastic is probably having some effect.

Tiffany: Well phthalates are anti-androgenic so that would explain why boys are acting more like girls or they have more features that are feminized. But it also causes delayed puberty, falling sperm count, shrunken genitals, not just in boys but in males of all species, genital deformities. I think there were a lot of articles on SOTT about how frogs...

Erica: Changed sexes.

Tiffany: Yeah, amphibians changing sexes and becoming hermaphroditic because of all the chemicals that are in the water supply.

Doug: That's crazy because the dropping sperm counts are actually quite disturbing because there's a fertility crisis going on right now where more and more people who are trying to conceive actually aren't able to. There was an article on SOTT a while ago called Men's Sperm Counts are Dropping and Scientists Puzzled as to Why. They never seem to make this connection. To quote, they said that "sperm count in men residing in developed countries has dropped by a whopping 50 percent in the past 40 years". So fifty percent! That's just insane!

And of course scientists say "We don't know what the hell is going on!" Well, if you're looking at things outside your own domain, it kind of seems obvious. You've got all these feminizing chemicals just floating around. Of course that's going to have a pretty detrimental effect on sperm production.

Tiffany: Yeah, and if it's been going on for 50 years you can't blame the cells phones, men putting cell phones in their pockets, although that does have an effect.

Doug: Wifi.

Gaby: You could blame glyphosate though. {laughter}

Erica: But it's that combination too, like Tiffany was saying with the amphibians and stuff, it's the combination of those plastic phthalates, BPA and things like glyphosate or herbicides or insecticides. So it's those really minute amounts that people aren't testing for. I can't remember what they call it - "inert" ingredients.

Tiffany: Well in that documentary, The Disappearing Male, they were talking about some town in Canada, I forgot the name, but I think it was a large native population. They lived near a factory that made plastics and it was putting out a bunch of chemicals and they were noticing over the years that fewer boys were born. Usually there's a 50/50 split between boys and girls being born. There was a drastic reduction in the number of boys that women were having.

Elliot: If I understand this correctly, when the baby or the foetus is growing it's initially female and it's a surge of testosterone which masculinizes the foetus to cause it to transition from a female to a male. I remember reading a book by neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp. It was called Archaeology of Mind. He just mentioned it in passing but it was an interesting piece of information. He was talking about how various plastics and the compounds found in plastics like BPA and things. What happens when a child or a baby is developing in the womb is that the central nervous system and then the rest of the organs develop along two different separate tracks. I can't remember the exact details but he was talking about how the surge of testosterone essentially masculinizes the body and then I think it masculinizes the brain afterwards. I may have that the wrong way around.

So what he theorizes - and I think it kind of makes sense - is that if a woman who is pregnant has a child who's developing in the womb and they have the initial surge of testosterone which sort of crystallizes the sex of the body - say it crystallizes or solidifies that this baby is going to be born a male in terms of their body - but if there's exposure to excessive plastics and xenoestrogens from the environment, then that can almost stop that testosterone's effect on the brain. He was saying how someone may be born a male, but actually have more of a female brain because of the disruption. He theorizes that this may be one of the reasons why we see so many transgender folk these days; maybe there is a part of them that does feel like they're female because maybe they actually have disrupted nervous systems.

Gaby: That's the one thing that I found most interesting while preparing for this show. Apparently scientists claim that the brain is the most sensitive organ to BPA and these endocrine disruptors so that's why it's associated with ADHD. But that concept of more gender fluidity is also very interesting from that point of view.

Doug: Yeah.

Elliot: Well they don't call them gender benders for nothing do they? {laughter}

Tiffany: It's a feminist conspiracy to get rid of males. Plastic.

Doug: The feminists invested plastic? Is that what you're saying?

Tiffany: Yes. {laughter}

Doug: Maybe.

Jonathan: Let's talk a little bit about the "regulation" of these materials.

Erica: What regulation?! {laughter}

Jonathan: Yeah, exactly.

Gaby: Ninety-nine percent of the population has BPA in their body.

Doug: Yeah, they found it in women's umbilical cords as well. There was a study where they tested women's umbilical cords and all of them had BPA. There wasn't a subject who didn't have it. It's insane!

And actually while we're talking about BPA, I just wanted to mention one thing. You see a lot of the labels that say 'BPA-free'. In many cases - not all cases obviously, there might be some good companies out there that have done their due diligence - but a lot of these companies are just replacing the BPA with stuff that is so structurally similar it may as well be the same thing.

Erica: Yeah, it's called BPS now.

Doug: Yeah. And there's another one called BP something else.

Gaby: They've got to harden the plastic somehow so that's the conflict.

Jonathan: Yeah, you've got to use that plastic. {laughter}

Tiffany: There's BPS, BHPF, BPRs, BPPs, and they're all just as bad. Some of them can be even worse than BPA.

Doug: Yeah, BPS I think is worse. It's more easily absorbed or something like that.

Tiffany: Yeah, 19 times more absorbable than BPA and it doesn't biodegrade as much as BPA. It doesn't biodegrade.

Doug: Just consider they're advertising 'this is BPA-free' and everybody's all happy about that, but meanwhile it's something that's 19 times more absorbable and doesn't degrade as quickly as BPA. What a scam! Jesus!

Jonathan: So how can you find that out? Is it possible to? Say I get a Yeti mug and the lid says 'BPA-free'. Can I find out if it has other BP-Xs in it? {laughter}

Doug: I don't know.

Tiffany: You can look on the bottom of the bottle that you're using. You shouldn't be using plastic to store stuff in anyway but if you do, if you look on the bottle and they have the little recycle triangle on there and if it has a 3 or a 7 on the bottom that's probably bad.

Jonathan: Okay. I feel like personally I have an intuitive understanding not to use thin plastics but for instance we get our water from a well that comes out of the ground. So we just go out to this spot in the woods and fill up big Culligan water jugs. They're the five gallon jugs. They are plastic. They say BPA-free on them but I'm wondering. I keep them out of the light and I'll try to do what I can but I've thought many times about just switching to using glass, but of course five gallon glass carboys are pretty heavy.

Erica: And it's dangerous.

Jonathan: Yeah right, you might cut yourself. Cancer or a cut? {laughter}

Erica: I'm with you Jonathan. I think storing it in there is not a good idea.

Jonathan: Yeah. Got to figure out this stuff.

Erica: The off-gassing. I don't know. That's just my theory. But if anyone goes to buy anything at a grocery store, what are the odds that it's not going to be in some sort of plastic?

Jonathan: Very small.

Tiffany: Slim to none.

Jonathan: Right.

Doug: Microwavable dinners are in plastic. It's not enough that it's in plastic! Let's heat it in the plastic.

Gaby: It's worse because the heat actually leaches the BPA much easier into your body.

Jonathan: Yeah, totally. If you've ever gotten a meal from a restaurant that comes in a Styrofoam box, and then you look in there and it's a hot meal and it's melted the Styrofoam onto your food. I've eaten that in the past.

Erica: It's sweating on the inside as well.

Jonathan: Yeah, it's awful. Or coffee in Styrofoam cups. Come on!

Erica: Back to the regulations. Canada actually I think was the first that started to try and regulate and I want to say the European Union too. But again, 10 years ago the baby bottles were the big thing. I think that's where people's awareness of BPA came into play. But the FDA in the United States just keeps saying 'There's no documentation' but if you listen to The Disappearing Male documentary, they talk about 'Well guess who funds the studies?' It's industry studies, in particular the American Chemistry Council.

Tiffany: One of the only reasons that they started getting rid of the BPA in baby bottles is because parents got upset about it and they demanded it. It's not because the FDA did anything about it.

Erica: Yeah.

Tiffany: Because they are lobbied by the chemical industry.

Erica: And they included pacifiers too. The part that the baby actually sucks on is no longer BPA but all the surrounding parts and if anyone's ever seen a baby, it's not like they're only sucking on the plastic sucky part. They've got the whole thing in their mouth.

Jonathan: Yeah. Let me read from this article about the FDA and BPA. It says, "Buried in a report summary that the FDA released is an excuse admission from the FDA that says that in essence its hands are tied." So this is the statement. "Current BPA food contact uses were approved under food additive regulations issued more than 40 years ago. This regulatory structure limits the oversight and flexibility of FDA. Once a food additive is approved any manufacturer of food or food packaging may use the food additive in accordance with the regulation. There is no requirement to notify FDA of that use." My addition here - assuming that's because it was previously approved so then they say they don't care anymore.

So, it says, "For example today there exist hundreds of different formulations for BPA containing epoxy linings which have varying characteristics. As currently regulated, manufacturers are not required to disclose to FDA the existence or nature of these formulations. Furthermore, if FDA were to decide to revoke one or more approved uses, they would then need to undertake what could be a lengthy process of rule-making to accomplish this goal."

So, they're saying 'We already told everybody it's cool. It's going to take too long for us to go back on that so we're just going to keep going the way it was.' I think that's essentially what it's saying.

Gaby: Probably they're not happy about that though.

Doug: Those who know anyway. There was one scientist who was talking about how the current way that they determine whether or not something is toxic is through a very specific method and it's if it has DNA-altering capabilities. The endocrine disrupters are different because they're affecting the endocrine system and hormones. I can't remember the analogy he used. It was something like 'If you have a sore throat you go to see a foot doctor.' They're not looking for that or anything like that. They may fix your feet but they're not going to do anything for your throat. The idea is that all the toxicologists or whatever it is that they have looking at this sort of thing just are not aware and aren't trained in this aspect of things. So it's like, 'No, it's fine! It's totally cool. Doesn't affect DNA. We're cool.'

Gaby: Everything in the environment affects DNA.

Doug: Well yeah.

Tiffany: In a lot of these studies they use adult participants and they are better at eliminating BPA though not very good considering that 90% of people have BPA in their body. But they don't test any of their compounds on things that are in the process of growing.

Erica: Because that's unethical.

Tiffany: Yeah. Growing people or growing animals because they know it's going to disrupt and they don't want that to show in their studies.

Erica: That's what so infuriating about the whole thing because, as we've talked about many times on the show, this whole pro-vaccine thing or the whole anti-smoking campaign. You never go to your doctor with a child that may have undescended testes and they say 'Well you should really cut out plastic'. {laughter} You know what I'm saying? It's not even on anybody's radar! And it's a huge public health issue. Huge!

Gaby: Especially when everything in the doctor's office is made of plastic. {laughter} In the tracheal tubes, IV lining.

Erica: Even in drugs, right? And vitamins there's plasticizers and softeners.

Tiffany: Yeah. They use phthalates to make the enteric coatings on certain medicines.

Doug: Yeah. It's funny because I know there are supplements that are enteric coated out there; certain probiotics, certain protein-digesting enzymes will have an enteric coating on them. I don't know if they have found some alternative to phthalates. I kind of doubt it. I think they're probably using the same thing the pharmaceutical companies are using.

Elliot: One of the main sources of BPA - one of my lecturers told me about this last year and I was shocked - was actually receipts.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Elliot: They are actually loaded with it and as soon as you pick up a receipt, that stuff is directly on your skin. My lecturer specializes in this and she was talking about how this is theorized to be one of the main exposures! Just stop getting the receipts or use a cloth or something. That's what she said.

Gaby: Reintroduce the fashion of gloves. If they're made out of plastic then that's incredibly bad.

Erica: I'm on a BPA receipt-free diet. {laughter}

Doug: Yeah, your cashier's going to give you weird looks if you put on gloves to take the receipt. [laughter]

Jonathan: Yeah. That's interesting because it seems like a super OCD thing to do, right and it probably would be for most people. I have read about people who are undergoing cancer treatments wearing gloves when they pump gas to cut down on that exposure because you do get it and if you're healing you need to cut down on it. So yeah, it wouldn't be that crazy for somebody who's actually suffering from an illness of some kind to protect themselves from that, or just decline the receipt. The IRS has your information anyway. You don't need those. {laughter}

Doug: Go ahead and tell the tax man that.

Erica: Yeah, when you get audited "I'm allergic to BPA".

Jonathan: Yeah, it's perfect. It's a medical exemption from saving your receipts. I love it. In a lot of contexts now you can go paperless for those things. Or if you're using a debit card at the store you have those transactions online so if you're really concerned about that you can go 'no receipt'. I was going to ask Elliot, did it seem like one of those things where it was a really overblown, cautious statement or was she very level-headed saying 'you really shouldn't be touching receipts'?

Elliot: She was pretty serious about it. She's got so many qualifications I don't even know what she's got. But she knows a lot basically and she was completely level-headed about it. I was under the impression that she doesn't touch her receipts.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Doug: As a bit of a caveat to that, it's not all receipts. I remember I was working in a store when this whole controversy came up and at the store they looked into it to see if the receipt company that they were going with had BPA in it and they did not. So it's not every single receipt but I think it's a lot of them.

Tiffany: It's better to be on the safe side. Just don't touch the receipts.

Doug: Yeah, exactly. Use tweezers to take the receipt.

Tiffany: Well one thing that really ticked me off in reading about this is the plastics that are in women's feminine hygiene products, like tampons that have the applicator with the plastic around it. That's in your vagina for several days a month every month for years and years and years. And also the plastics that are used in the sanitary pads. The vagina is very absorbent, the skin in there and you're absorbing all of these chemicals through your vagina and it's really, really scary.

But there was an experiment - I think it was on - where one of his researchers took two different types of sanitary pads. One was an Always brand Infinity pad and the other was a natural cotton GMO-free pad and they put them in these white bowls and they set them on fire and the organic cotton pad just burned and the Always brand pad was setting off this black smoke like if you throw a piece of plastic on a bonfire.

Gaby: No way!

Tiffany: You know that black smoke that comes off? And it totally blackened the white bowl that it was in.

Gaby: Okay, I'm going to spend more money on those organic pads from now on.

Doug: Oh man! Like a tire fire.

Erica: Well it makes you wonder about - and maybe Elliot has some more to share about this - but the whole incidents of cervical cancer and all these different reproductive organ cancers that are happening at a rapidly growing rate.

Elliot: It makes sense. One of the main things that comes to mind with cervical cancer is the fact that, aside from the plastics, a lot of the tampons are generally made from cotton...

Tiffany: GMO cotton.

Elliot: And cotton is heavily sprayed with glyphosate. I guess when you think of these plastics and all of this other crap, when you put it directly into the vagina, you have to understand that the cells that line the vagina or the tissue is highly absorbent. It's called epithelial tissue but you really don't want that stuff up there.

Tiffany: It's the same kind of tissue that's in your mouth basically and you can deliver drugs sublingually without even swallowing. Just put it in your mouth and let it dissolve under your tongue. So it's the same with your vagina.

Elliot: Yeah, people take what they call pessaries.

Tiffany: Yeah, suppositories for the vagina.

Elliot: Yeah. That is drug absorption.

Gaby: It's highly absorbent.

Tiffany: Yeah, that's why certain hormone creams, you put the cream in the lining of your vagina and it's absorbed. And you're doing that with plastic and GMO cotton.

Elliot: Another thing that I found interesting reading about plastics - not really interesting, it kind of made me a bit sad - was about the microplastics in the fish. Lots of sea life, despite the fact that it's really nutrient dense, there is the possibility that some of the flesh actually does contain the plastic. These animals can't see the plastic and the plastic is really abundant in the oceans and so it accumulates in their tissues apparently. So when you eat fish there's a good chance you're getting a healthy dose of plastic as well.

Erica: And salts. There's microplastics in sea salt or different types of salt from when they go through the process of drying it. Again, there's microscopic plastic in salt too.

Gaby: I just caught up with a tweet. There's a new paper published in Nature magazine. It shows that the great Pacific garbage patch is twice the size of Texas, 16 times heavier than previously thought and is 46% plastic.

Erica: I have a little story about that. My great-grandfather is 97 years old and he's a sailor and he's sailed around the world several times and he has seen the Pacific garbage patch. This was 25 or 30 years ago. He was saying that it covers so much space that you can't even believe it and you would think that you could get out and walk on it but it's not solid and it's up to a mile deep! They're finding those plastic gyres all over the oceans, not just in the Pacific anymore. It's because of the way that the currents are that they all end up in one spot.

Living in Hawaii for many years, the tourist cruise ships have an ordinance where they can dump trash two miles offshore. So when you go to certain places in Hawaii - and there's pictures of it on SOTT - you can see when the tides change or the currents change, entire beaches are covered, completely covered with things like detergent bottles, toothbrushes, tampon applicators. It is the craziest thing you'll ever see. One of the things in Hawaii, the Surf Rider Foundation are trying to eliminate plastic straws because just think about the next time you go somewhere to eat, how many straws are used in a typical restaurant?

But also these plastics, like the things that hold your sodas together and stuff, they're choking out sea turtles. So they have all these sea turtles that have grown around these plastic rings and they're completely deformed and it is the most disturbing thing to see because you're like 'What are people doing?! It's just trash.' And people don't see it! When you throw out your straw you don't think, 'This is going to end up in the ocean."

Tiffany: Wasn't there a Disney movie, the one about the penguins, Happy Feet, and one of the penguins had one of those soda things stuck on his neck?

Erica: So there was a big push, 'cut your soda things before you throw them away' and this and that. So there is awareness about it but I think people don't realize the magnitude and until you actually see it, like my grandfather said, you wouldn't believe it. You see pictures and you think 'oh that's it', but when you see it and it's for hundreds of miles, you just realize - it goes back to George Carlin. "We're screwed."

Tiffany: Well there are some activists in California who want to propose a law that you cannot get a straw in a restaurant unless you specifically ask for it and he wants to fine waiters $1,000 for each infraction.

Gaby: It has come to that, eh?

Jonathan: Well they do already on the west coast charge you for bags. I don't know if they do that in many other parts of the country.

Doug: Yeah.

Jonathan: But at the store you have to pay a quarter to get a bag. I think that's a good idea. I have cloth bags and when I can remember I will bring them to the store but to be honest, I do not remember all the time. How effective can you be in these contexts is what I'm wondering. So usually if I forget my cloth bag I'd rather not use a plastic bag anyway so I'll ask for a paper bag. But am I contributing to deforestation? {laughter} It's hard. There's all these little things. They say 'make a difference on the personal level and change your own habits' and I believe that that's true. It's just hard to keep the goal in sight because it's so overwhelming when you start looking into this information and you see how prevalent the contaminants are and me not using a bag is really only good for my conscience.

Doug: Yeah, totally. It's useless. I honestly think in the overall scheme of things I think it's pretty useless. Honestly, these kinds of things don't change at the individual level. Even if an entire state said 'Yay, no more plastic bags' is that going to put a dent in anything? What percentage of the plastic is plastic bags? Probably very, very little. What is one state in the grand scheme of things in the entire world? Probably very, very little. Even if you just look at plastic and how big a part of 'the problem' that is, it's not much. So all these little things that make people feel better, that they care because they're doing this, that and the other thing, 'I'm not drinking out of plastic bottles anymore'. It isn't putting a dent in things. Honestly, I think that humans are just destroying everything and that's just the way it is.

Gaby: Well Graham in the chat is sharing something interesting. In Sweden they wanted to raise the price of bags to about $1. It's the one thing that people do pay attention to, when you have to pay more money. If the price of plastic skyrockets, everybody will go back to basics. Glass.

Erica: And maybe you won't forget your bag next time Jonathan. {laughter]

Jonathan: Yeah, exactly. You've just got to be more conscious about that. With regards to what you said, I think the key is really your personal health. You want to maintain an eye on that and you shouldn't use plastics for that reason. But to be high and mighty and say that you're changing the world because you don't use plastic bags is retarded, pardon my French.

Doug: It's the same thing with hybrid cars, all these things that people get all kind of smug about. I honestly think it's doing absolutely nothing.

Erica: Then it doesn't break down or if it does break down it takes hundreds of years and then it just turns into nurdles or microplastic so it's not like it's leaving the environment.

Tiffany: Plastic lasts forever.

Jonathan: Is there a way we can just scoop up the gyre, like the main part of it and recycle all that and then just not make plastic for five years.

Doug: Or just not make plastic!

Erica: There are organization that are working on technology to do that, creating a beneficial microbe to eat plastic and this, that and the other thing. But again, for the chemical companies, it's their business.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Erica: So maybe get a small grant and you can do your pond in your backyard but twice the size of Texas, that's a huge undertaking.

Tiffany: I think that there was a Swedish engineer from some...

Erica: He was Dutch I think.

Tiffany: Yeah, one of those northern European countries, and he wanted to build this device to put into the ocean that would gather all the plastic unto it and then from that point you can get it all out and recycle it or do whatever with it. But I don't think that any of that has been put into practice yet. It's all just a pipe dream.

Jonathan: I did see a very interesting device. So if you can picture this, if you take a cup and fill your sink up with water and then submerge a cup in the water, when the lip of the cup meets the surface of the water, water flows into the cup. So that concept is this unit that they stick in the water and it has a rounded lip around the top and then a pump underneath it. So as the water flows into it, it accelerates that and then it has a catch that catches plastic bags and filters that stuff out. So you just drop these little pods all around bays and harbours and it will clean them up. It's actually very interesting. So hopefully with stuff like that maybe we can help a little bit.

Erica: But again, what do you do with it?

Jonathan: Right. You can recycle it.

Erica: Do you just put it on land or you shoot it into outer space?

Jonathan: No, I think...

Elliot: Put it on a rocket. [laughter]

Jonathan: The key is reclaiming it I think, but then, to educate the population on 'okay, we've reclaimed this plastic. Don't throw it away again.' That's going to be hard to do.

Tiffany: Well out of all of the devices or things that we use that are made of plastic, how much of it is made from recycled plastic?

Erica: Everything. Everything is recycled. {laughter}

Jonathan: A lot of it is.

Erica: That's what I keep telling myself.

Jonathan: It's not like an ethical high point.

Doug: I think we're screwed.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Tiffany: That seems to be the general consensus. You can take certain steps to protect your own health but as far as the environment, it's jacked.

Erica: Do we have any positive things to share? What you can do? I know for me, I got rid of all my Tupperware, everything and I store everything in mason jars or glass. But the glass bowl has a plastic lid.

Elliot: Yeah.

Erica: And you don't cook in plastic. You don't heat up your food in a microwave in a plastic container.

Tiffany: You don't pour hot beverages in a Styrofoam cup.

Jonathan: What do you guys think about silicone? I know that it's plastic based but it seems safe. How safe really is it? I've seen thin silicone fail under heat whereas thick silicone doesn't but I don't know. I don't know how I feel about it.

Tiffany: Well all of those silicone breast implants have failed.

Erica: Well they are making...

Jonathan: Supposed to be heat-resistant up to 450 degrees or something like that.

Erica: I know from working in the food industry they're making plastic-free biodegradable forks and spoons and containers. My experience with them, they're made out of corn which is mostly likely GMO corn, but if you leave them in the sun they melt. {laughter} So not very good as far as the whole food shipping thing, right? They're in a hot truck, everything melts in there.

Doug: What it really seems to come down to is all the solutions that are put forward are, 'You know all the conveniences that you have so far? Well we're going to take those away because it's not working very well.' I think that that is a really tough sell, like you were saying Jonathan. It's hard to actually get people on-board with that. Even the plastic bag thing, when I was working in a store, the number of people who complained about that, their attitude was 'How dare you inconvenience me?! This is ridiculous.' So I think it's a really tough problem.

Gaby: Yeah, it is the attitude that makes it so ubiquitous.

Jonathan: I think we should make all plastic packaging blister packaging and then everybody would be so annoyed that they would not use it. I don't know how you guys feel about that. Blister packaging is that really thick plastic that's form moulded. If you get a knife from Walmart or something, it's packaged with that.

Erica: Or everything that you buy at Costco is in stuff like that.

Jonathan: Yeah. Then you try to cut it open and you cut yourself. {laughter} Anyway, I think good solutions, Erica like you said, one small step you could do - and I'm not there. I have Tupperwares that I use but I have tried generally to start using glass more and there's no convenience difference, it's actually better. It's more heat resistant. You can seal a mason jar if you want to can something. There's a lot more practical options when you're using glass and metal. It costs a little more if you want to get your supplies but then ultimately does it really? Does it cost that much more because you can use a mason jar for years if you take care of it.

Erica: It's funny, other people's perception. I carried a mason jar of water to work one day and everyone assumed I was bringing moonshine.

Jonathan: Yeah. {laughter}

Tiffany: Moonshine?

Erica: And I tried to say 'Well I want to drink out of glass' and they were like, 'Yeah, right. Whatever. You just want to drink moonshine on the job' or whatever. But I was "weird" because I had my water in a glass jar.

Jonathan: Right. Not that they actually think you have moonshine but you're kind of weird. I get that every once in a while I'll carry around iced coffee in a half pint mason jar with a lid on it and you get 'Oh, what is that? Like an adult sippy cup? What've you got there?" {laughter}

Erica: But they are making stuff like that now but it does have a plastic outer protectant so that if you drop it you don't break it.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Doug: Plastic.

Jonathan: As I mentioned earlier I have a Yeti mug. They make nice stainless steel mugs but they have plastic lids. They're allegedly BPA-free. The same with Hydro Flask, they make nice little thermoses that are all stainless, triple lined, all that, but then they have the BPA-free plastic lids. So even coming down to sealing stuff. I think that's where a lot of people come from. It's not economical to use pure rubber for gaskets so now they're using silicone for that. I think Doug you had a point there which comes back to what we were talking about at the beginning about, are humans natural? {laughter} Are we even supposed to be here because we appear to not be able to keep from destroying our environment.

Doug: Yeah.

Erica: The sealing stuff too is all the canned goods. All the canned goods. Anything canned has a BPA sealant.

Gaby: I was reading that acidic stuff like tomato sauce actually facilitates BPA-leaching.

Doug: Yeah. And for all the stuff we're saying that you can do, it's in the air. It's in the tap water.

Erica: It's in your receipts.

Doug: It's in your receipts.

Tiffany: It's in your makeup.

Doug: It's everywhere.

Tiffany: In your lotions.

Jonathan: In your underwear.

Gaby: Your tampons.

Tiffany: Your baby shampoo.

Jonathan: Enema bulbs, yup. {laughter}

Doug: Yeah.

Elliot: I was just going to come in with some solutions.

Jonathan: Yeah, please.

Erica: Please.

Elliot: If it's possible. There's a couple of things that you can do, from what I understand. I think we are exposed to a shitload of plastics every day as we've spoken about for an hour on this show. But I think some people tend to accumulate them more than others based on probably several factors like genetics or whether their liver function is working properly and stuff and whether they're overly toxic in other ways. But there are some positive notes that we can end the show on.

I did some research because I was interested in understanding how the body could get rid of plastic because I was under the impression that it was difficult but it turns out that you can actually do it. There are several ways to do it. I think first of all, if someone actually suspects that they have plastic toxicity, there's some really good tests. There's one by a lab in the US called Great Plains Laboratory and they have a toxicology profile. So that tests for things like glyphosate but it also tests for things like BPA, phthalates and other kinds of industrial chemicals. So I think it's a urine sample. So you can get that done as well as a couple of other places. There's one by a company called Genova Diagnostics. They're based in the US but they're also in the UK and I believe they're in Europe so you can do a toxicology profile with those as well.

Or if you just want to focus on getting rid of them, then it's important to note with phthalates anyway, phthalates are excreted by one of the detox pathways which is called glucuronidation. So this is when your liver attaches a glucuronic acid to the plastic and it carries it out in the feces. So ideally, when your liver attaches this thing, this glucuronic acid to a plastic, it should go into the intestine and stay there until it gets expelled into the toilet. But one of the problems here is that many people have bacterial dysbiosis in their gut so they have an overgrowth of specific bacteria which produce an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase. When I did a stool sample last year I had extremely high levels of this enzyme.

What this enzyme does is it undoes all of the work that your liver has just done. So it de-conjugates this glucuronic acid from the toxicant, whether it be a plastic or a hormone or whatever and it allows the plastic or the other toxic chemical to reabsorb into your bloodstream and circulate again. One of the things that various practitioners recommend is to possibly supplement with a compound called calcium D-glucarate. It inhibits this enzyme which undoes the work for your liver. So if you have some gut issues, if you think you have problems with your gut bacteria, it might be a good idea to supplement with calcium D-glucarate. You can look at that. There's lots of information about that online. So that should help your liver be able to detox the plastics via the poo.

Another thing that is interesting is that there have been several gut bacterial strains which have actually been found to inhibit the absorption of BPA but also to increase the excretion of BPA. These are bifidobacterium breve and lactobacillus casei. So if you can find a probiotic, I imagine any good quality probiotic probably has some strains that can facilitate the growth of these two bacteria, typically any bifidobacterium and lactobacillus. Also I think the various strains of acidophilus can be important as well in this regard. I like to use a probiotic called MegaSporeBiotic. This isn't technically like a normal probiotic. It's a spore-based one but I've had really good results with that. It doesn't have those bacteria but what it does do is a really good job at clearing out some bacteria which aren't necessarily beneficial and it can help to facilitate the growth of the good bacteria which can do the things that we spoke about.

And all of these recommendations come down to supporting the liver because the liver is the thing that does the work to detoxify all of these things. There are various recommendations about increasing cruciferous vegetables, increasing sulphur content because you need sulphur to produce glutathione and all of these other detoxification molecules, but one of those, particularly sulphation. A couple of weeks ago we had Dr. Stephanie Seneff and she was talking all about sulphate. It was shown that sulphation of BPA abolished its oestrogenicity. So this was on human breast cancer cells. This was in vitro so it wasn't actually done in the human body, but it's interesting that when you attach a sulphate molecule to BPA, you render it non-toxic.

So Epsom salts baths, cruciferous vegetables, broccoli sprouts, I don't know, whatever you want to do. Just make sure that you've got good sulphate. Another one is far infrared sauna or any sauna that makes you sweat. So sweating is really important and it was shown - I can't find the study right here - but I think it was shown that sweating, one of the main excretion groups for BPA is via the sweat. So if you can do something to build up a really big sweat, preferably go for a far infrared sauna because of all the other benefits as well. The sweating is probably a good way to get rid of the plastics. I think that was it.

Gaby: That's great news actually. I like it!

Jonathan: Yeah, that was great.

Tiffany: I feel a little more inspired.

Jonathan: Yeah, I feel a little bit more warm and fuzzy now. {laughter}

Gaby: Me too!

Jonathan: No, that's awesome. That was really great. So if we change our habits we're not really affecting the overall picture that much. We can affect our health and not only that, as you just explained, you can go into your body and combat these things in a way that you facilitate their excretion, right? Or neutralization in some way.

Tiffany: There was also a study that I read. It was done on mice though. They exposed pregnant mouse mothers to BPA and they saw all the concomitant genital malformations and low sperm counts in her male offspring. But they did another follow-up study where they assessed the mother mouse's vitamin A status and if she had adequate amounts of vitamin A then the effects of BPA were not as bad. So if you're going to have a baby, make sure your vitamin A is where it should be.

Doug: Wow.

Jonathan: Elliot, what was the name of that calcium compound that you mentioned?

Elliot: It's called calcium D-glucarate. I'll put it in the chat. It's a really interesting compound. I was taking it for a while when I had some gut issues. As I said, I had this overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria which produced this enzyme. A lot of women who have problems with their menstrual cycle, say they get PMS or they have oestrogen-related symptoms, very often I believe that when you do a stool sample on them you will see that there are elevated beta-glucuronidase. So this enzyme, as I said, undoes the work of the liver. So your liver works really hard to get rid of all of the shit and then if you've got some gut bacteria down there who are undoing it all, that's not good stuff because it can become recirculated, reabsorbed and it puts more stress on the liver. So the calcium D-glucarate has been shown to be really effective at stopping that process while you're trying to normalize.

Again, it's not a cure but it's good for symptoms because while you're trying to target the dysbiosis and trying to fix the health of the gut, it can be good to increase the detoxification process.

Jonathan: Sure. Very cool.

Elliot: Can I say one more thing?

Jonathan: Sure.

Elliot: I think activated charcoal should theoretically work. Activated charcoal is extremely negatively charged and from what I understand BPA, like many other sorts of toxic molecules, has a very strong positive charge. So the way that activated charcoal works is that when you eat it, it's said to draw toxins, not only from the gut, but draw positively charged toxins from the bloodstream as well and other things. So it's generally regarded as really good for detoxing things. I haven't seen anything specifically about plastic but I would imagine that charcoal should theoretically work. And activated charcoal can actually filter BPA externally. So if you use a water distiller with a charcoal filter and the BPA coming through the charcoal filter, the charcoal will absorb the BPA. So I would imagine that maybe it happens in the body as well, but I don't know.

Gaby: That's very useful information because activated charcoal is the one thing that is affordable and is available worldwide.

Jonathan: I wonder if clay would work the same too? Bentonite and montmorillonite clay? It's a similar thing. It draws out positively charged elements in the body. So that's mainly promoted for heavy metal detox. Awesome. We do not have a pet health segment for today so we're going to go ahead and wrap up the show. We'd like to thank everybody for tuning in and to our chat participants for using the chat. Quit using your bags. Get a cloth bag. Use mason jars. Take all the stuff Elliot laid out there and you're good to go. {laughter}

Gaby: Activated charcoal.

Jonathan: Yeah. We will see you guys next week. We have a few really exciting interviews coming up. We'll fill you in as we go forward.

All: Good-byes.