What is Dioxin? Dioxin is a toxic chemical compound formed as an unintentional by-product of many industrial processes involving chlorine such as waste incineration, chemical and pesticide manufacturing and pulp and paper bleaching. Dioxin was the primary toxic component of Agent Orange.
Dioxin pollution is also affiliated with paper mills which use chlorine bleaching in their process and with the production of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) plastics and certain chlorinated chemicals (like many pesticides). (Source: http://www.ejnet.org/dioxin) Dioxin is some bad caca.
Bottom line: we need to avoid this toxic chemical. The two quickest ways to reduce the exposure to this toxin is by reducing your consumption of non-organic meats and dairy and reduce your use of plastic, particularly heated plastic. For purposes of this EcoTip, let’s talk plastic.
From Rolf Halden, Ph.D. at the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: “In general, whenever you heat something you increase the likelihood of pulling chemicals out. Chemicals can be released from plastic packaging materials like the kinds used in some microwave meals…If you put a straw into a boiling cup of hot coffee, you basically have a hot water extraction going on, where the chemicals in the straw are being extracted into your nice cup of coffee. We use the same process in the lab to extract chemicals from materials we want to analyze…Inert containers are best, for example heat-resistant glass, ceramics and good old stainless steel [not in the microwave, of course].
If that doesn’t scare you straight, I don’t know what will. I certainly don’t need any chemical extractions into my food! Bottom line: heat and plastic do not mix.
Here are a few “Don’ts” with plastic:
- Don’t microwave food with plastic wrap or any kind of plastic container.
Don’t let hot food cool in plastic containers.
Don’t microwave frozen meals, TV dinners, instant noodles/soups, etc. in their plastic containers. (Transfer the contents to a glass or ceramic bowl instead.)
Let’s just all reduce our consumption of plastic. It’s better for our bodies, our children and our planet. Reuse what we’ve already got so w don’t have to buy anymore. And, if you must dump it, recycle it. Whatever you do, don’t heat it!