Nutrition · Parenting · Pregnancy

Plastics and fertility: What’s the link?

Square plastic food container

We find plastic everywhere in our world and use different types of plastic in daily life.  Ever wonder if they have any effect on trying to have a child?

Studies have shown that constant exposure over time and unsafe use of plastics may have negative health effects on you and your ability to get pregnant.

What are Plastics?  

Plastics are made from materials found in gasoline, coal and oil. They are endocrine disruptors which means they interfere with the way hormones work in the body.   Long term exposure to plastics have been shown to increase the risk of infertility.   

You can be exposed to the chemicals in plastics by eating, drinking, touching or breathing them in.

Which plastics have negative effects on your fertility?

  1. Bisphenol A (BPA):

Mostly found in plastics that come in contact with food and beverages such as water bottles and the inside lining of canned food.

BPA is released into food and beverages by heating the plastic container and repeated washing of the container.

  1. Phthalates:

Chemicals that are commonly used to soften plastic and it is found in household products such as plastic toys, food containers, vinyl flooring and shower curtains. They are often labelled as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and can accumulate in your body over time.

Where are they found?

According to Health Canada, all plastics with triangles number 1-6 are BPA free. If you find a plastic product with number 7, it is more likely to have BPA.

What can you do to reduce the harmful effects of plastics?

  1. Use glass or metal containers for food or beverages as much as possible.
  2. Do not heat food or beverages in a plastic container even if they are considered microwave safe. Heat makes the chemicals in plastics absorb into the food.
  3. Use plastic containers only for food storage, being careful not to store hot foods or liquids. Wait for food/drink to cool down before putting into plastic containers.
  4. When possible, buy bulk food instead of canned and packaged food.
  5. Try to use less plastics in your home by :
  • choosing PVC free furniture, vinyl wallpaper & flooring
  • using another material instead of plastic, if available. For example, cloth instead of plastic shower curtains
  • keeping plastic items not intended for children out of reach and avoid soft plastic/vinyl toys

eChat with a Public Health Nurse or call 416-338-7600 with any questions you may have.

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