19 February 2008

Our Modern Diet: Heavy On the Plastics, Please

It just so happens that I grew up in the self-proclaimed Pioneer Plastics City, Leominster, Massachusetts (and birthplace of Johnny Appleseed...yeah, he was real). Home to the National Plastics Center & Museum, the plastic pink flamingo, dozens of little injection molding plants and similar factories, we grew up surrounded by plastics. Leominster even has streets named for various types of the stuff. The downside to all this being the toxic wastes scattered in who-knows-how-many sites around town. Apparently we're also infamous for high rates of autism amongst kids who grew up in the shadow of the long-gone Foster Grant sunglass factory (the site is a strip mall now, yay America). My dad and his siblings used to play down in those swamps and eat the blueberries. To make a long story short, my younger brother got off pretty easy and just had some minor learning dysfunctions (and in a grand irony, is now an elementary school teacher). I am just chronically underemployed and a-motivated, though the cause is as-yet undetermined. Oh, and my stories never have a point.

Anyway, I figure this is as good a way as any to bring up some new findings on plastic containers that I just saw over at Scientific American. Around the time I entered college carrying around your own Nalgene was a bit of a fad amongst the crunchies and activist kids. I still notice folks carrying them around, attached to their belt-loops or backpacks. Not long after the trend got popular a rumour had begun that they leached chemicals into the water, though most kids passed it off not thinking much of it. Well, turns out that rumour's been proven true about eight years later. Scientists are conflicted as to how much damage the chemical (known as Bisphenol A or BPA) actually does, but it's generally agreed that continuous consumption of this is moreso bad than good. Go read the article to find out more about the studies involved as I'm not motivated enough to rehash it all here.

I personally have unverified hypotheses about the nature of our particular strain of American stupidity and our amazing levels of toxin consumption. Let's just say I've had experience with chemically-affected (not altogether negative, either) people most of my life, so I can speak with marginal authority (as I'm only a trained social scientist).

Hey, China, here's to your children's future! <<makes plastic-y fake 'clink' noise>>

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