By Saleem Saim
While traveling people buy mineral water bottles and generally bring the empty bottles home for regular storage of water in their refrigerators. The for one-time-use plastic bottles and containers are commonly used by literate as well as semi-literate populace without having the slightest hint of the imminent danger they are exposing their family to; they generally preserve the old discarded plastic bottles for their dining-tables and refrigerator door-racks. Many people are so unaware that they never buy food-grade plastic bottles and containers and instead go for eye-catching, colourful, low-cost substandard plastic wares. Similarly the polythene bags in which many people bring tandoori rotis, biryani, curd, milk, sweets etc are not at all non-toxic to food. Polythene bags must not be used to reheat or cook food in microwave ovens. Excessive heat of the microwave may drive off harmful chemical gases from the polythene contaminating the enclosed food. Always use microwave safe plastic for cooking or reheating food.
Today one of the most used materials is plastic and it has certainly made life a lot convenient, at times it turns out to be a health hazard though. If a plastic material looks like a promisingly suitable food container does not make it safe for storing food. It may not be a food-grade plastic, fit for repeated usage. The use of polythene bags for food storage or cooking is not recommended because they are a class of substandard plastic and toxic chemicals from them may leach into food.
Drinking water, beverages or any acidic food must not be stored in cheap, non-food-grade plastic containers. The plastic material contains plasticizers containing toxic chemicals and hazardous heavy metal compounds which may slowly leach into the beverages or food and seriously contaminate them. The frail looking plastic mineral water bottles, cups, spoons, plates etc are meant only for a single use. After their first use, the plastic material is not fit for storing food items or drinking water.
Such cheap plastics let a multitude of colonies of pathogenic bacteria thrive on their surface and not easily wash out by water and detergent. Thus these bacteria continue to contaminate water, food items and hands. These plastics cannot withstand multiple cleaning and get eroded slowly. They cannot safely be washed with hot water, soap and other cleansers.
The used polythene bags are generally used by people for disposing off household trash and stale, leftover food. Showing a general apathy to the civic sense these stuffed polythene bags are thrown carelessly at random places. Out of hunger many stray cattle often engulf them and at times die due to asphyxiation (choking of respiratory tract) or intestinal obstruction. Medical wastes generated by hospitals and nursing homes are also polluting the environment, thatís why the Government has made it mandatory to use incinerators for safe disposal of bio-medical wastes. Some of the gases that emanate from burning plastics are carcinogenic and also the cause of various types of skin diseases and allergies.
To protect health of general people and for amelioration of environment, these polythene bags and other cheap quality products should be banned.††
© Saleem Saim