Obese children show greater exposure than nonobese children to a phthalate, a chemical used to soften plastics in some children’s toys and many household products. It’s even found in some pacifiers!
Phthalates are found in plastic food packages, medical equipment and building materials such as vinyl flooring, and even in nonplastic personal care products, including soap, shampoo and nail polish. The obesity risk increases according to the level of the chemical found in the bloodstream.
If you want to get pregnant, see your dentist (No, we don’t mean you should have sex in the dental chair). A recent Australian study compared rates of periodontal disease with the speed by which women conceived and found that women with fewer cavities got pregnant more quickly. It turns out that the kind of oral bacteria that causes cavities also increases inflammation, which not only impacts placental health, but might even increase the risk of miscarriage or premature birth.
Disposing of plastic trash will be one of the biggest problems we face in 2012. The oceans are filled with plastic items that have washed out to sea (or been dumped from ships), and several coastal communities in California have banned plastic bags.
It’s a problem in Europe as well: Five hundred tons of Christmas tree lights, not to mention food wrappers, plastic bottles and broken toys, will be thrown away in the UK this year, and only a tiny proportion will be recycled.