Plastic and Your Pet: The Hidden Toxin

Plastic. It has become an integral part of our lives in every aspect. Even the keyboard on which I’m typing is plastic. What if I told you that plastic could be killing you and your pet? Stick with me readers as I give you a brief history.

In reality plastic has been around for the past 100 years. Its infiltration into every aspect of our lives is recent to the past 50. Look around you right at this moment. How many things can you see in front of you that are made with plastic? Water bottles, keyboards, cell phones, watch bands, calculators, shampoo bottles, dishes, eyeglasses, pens, scissor handles, plastic food containers, food wrap, shoes, garbage bags, the list is so endless it is no surprise that we seem to be slaves to its convenience.

In the last half century plastic has been perfected, made more durable, and become much more affordable. Let’s face it, it keeps food fresh, is indestructible, and for all practical purposes now indisposable. Mankind has become so reliant upon plastic it’s difficult to imagine life without it, but what, exactly, has it been doing to our health, environment, and future? I say let’s narrow the subject down to this. What effect is it having on our pets? Hang on pet owners; just a bit more scientific explanation is worthy.

Plastic is rife with the chemical we call BPA or Bisephenol A. BPA has only recently been examined for the negative effects it has on all those who come in contact with it. According to a pharmaceutical report “The leaching of BPA from the polycarbonate plastics and the polycarbonate plastic lining of containers is particularly alarming in light of the serious health risks associated with BPA ingestion.

More than 200 lab animal tests to date strongly suggest that BPA exposure, even at very low doses, creates risks of dangerous developmental, neural, and reproductive health effects in infants and children. Exposure to BPA, even at low and short-term doses, is linked to a staggering number of health problems, including: breast and prostate cancer, diabetes, obesity, hyperactivity, impaired and altered immune systems, miscarriage, chromosome abnormalities, Down’s syndrome, impaired learning and memory, increased aggression,….” and the list goes on. Most canned food, including dog and cat food, is lined with BPA to prevent a ‘metal’ taste in the food it stores.

So, it would be fair to surmise that if BPA’s are doing so much damage to humankind, what effect is it having on our pets? This time look at your pet’s world. Plastic food storage, plastic bowls, toys, crates, chews, squeakies, gates, ball, Frisbee, pill bottles, and tags, to name a few. As I walked down the aisles of one of the pet product stores where I live every aisle was filled with plastic and every product was packaged in plastic. The longer a product is stored in that plastic the more BPA’s are leached into that item. Plastic in extreme temperatures leaches larger amounts of BPA, so freezing in plastic and microwaving in plastic increases the incidence of exposure.

‘Endocrine disruptors, such as BPA, may very well play a part in the etiology of classic reproductive disorders and cancers, as well as diseases not often linked to hormonal activity — immune system conditions, learning and behavioral disorders, diabetes, and even obesity. If BPA does indeed contribute to any of these epidemic disorders, the potential ramifications for public health are far-reaching.’ ~ Environmental Working Group – Bisephenol A: Toxic Plastics Chemical in Canned Food: BPA and Human Diseases on the Rise
 
It’s interesting to note that in September 2010, Canada became the first country to declare BPA a toxic substance. The United States, on the other hand, is dragging its feet on the issue mainly due to big corporate lobbying and funding.

The solution? This is tough. I’ve been working hard to eliminate the plastic from my own life and thus, the life of my pets. Food storage is fairly easy. I switched dog treats from a tall plastic container to a tall glass one instead. Dog food went from a highly convenient plastic storage bin to a less convenient but much more healthy stainless can with lid. I’ve been fortunate in that my dogs don’t enjoy playing with plastic toys. Sharkey will, if given the opportunity, consume them one small bite at a time. So I don’t have any in the house.

I called six dog food manufacturers about the BPA lining in their cans. When I could get no definitive answer from any of them I did my own study. I found one company that does not use BPA lining in their cans, Blue Buffalo, and thankfully that has been the product that my pets have been eating for quite awhile. All the more reason to make the food your dogs consume but remember not to store it in plastic in the refrigerator.

Alternatives to plastic are out there; it just takes a bit of research and re-investment. I have eliminated plastic for refrigerator storage and now use glass instead. When I travel I bring water for the dogs and myself in metal water bottles. All dishes have been switched over to ceramic and metal. The crates in which my dogs sometimes sleep and travel are made of plastic, but the dogs don’t consume them so I think I am safe in that regard. The company Simplhuman makes a dog food storage container out of stainless with a BPA free inner bucket. Solutions are available, but you need to look carefully.

In conclusion my dog adoring readers, the very things we give our pets to make their lives more exciting, more wonderful, more interesting, and more healthful, could be what is ultimately increasing their incidence of cancer, disease, and premature death. So think twice the next time you throw that ball, toss that toy, or open that can of food.




60 comments

  • May 25, 2012 9:42 amPosted 2 years ago
    Hundetraining Dienste

    Watch toys made in China. My dog got sick off of them…and treats too

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  • May 25, 2012 12:37 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Nancy K.

    So what ABOUT toys? What are some reasonable substitutes for plastic in: Balls, chew toys (OK ~ bones on that one), squeaky toys, etc.?

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      May 30, 2012 7:43 amPosted 2 years ago
      Anonymous

      Nancy, there is a USA toy company named Wigzi that sells toys with no BPA or Phalates. We have some of them in our webstore (thepawsmahal.com). They’re not easily found in mainstream big box stores, but local pet stores might have them stocked. They smell like cupcakes, too. Very sturdy, can be cleaned in the dishwasher, and the smell doesn’t wash out!

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    May 25, 2012 1:05 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Diana

    Vittles Vault made by Gamma Plastics is BPA FREE…As long as you are buying a food grade product it should be BPA free.
    If unsure contact the company & ask…
    Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater……A lot of the CHEAP plastics will contain BPA …Like everything else do your research .. there are a LOT of companies that are being responsible….A lot of “to go” cups & bottles are BPA free

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      May 25, 2012 4:16 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Susan

      Unfortunately Diana, food grad product does not guarantee BPA free, bottled water being one example – AND unless it specifically says BPA FREE on the package you can assume that it is not.

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    May 25, 2012 3:08 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Rox

    And you think this isn’t happening to people too? It IS.

    And it isn’t just cancer although that’s probably the most frightening of the problems with plastics. Many plastics are also “obesogens” (obesity-causing) contributing to diabetes, Cushings, and heart disease. Little is said in the mainstream media about the endocrine disruptors in, and other metabolic disorders caused by, plastics — and those are not limited just to plastics containing bisphenol-A though BPA gets most of the bad press because it was found in baby bottles – that kind of press coverage dangerous in itself because we then tend to ignore the other equally dangerous plastics and focus on only one, which of course makes the profit-driven manufacturers very happy indeed.

    Best possible strategy is to home cook for your dog based on sound, correct nutritional principles which can easily be found in the ever-increasing amount of information in print or on the internet and even obtained from animal nutritionists at a vet school. Best place for getting started with correct information on a home-cooking program for your dog is in Dr. Pitcairn’s book – yes, it’s an expensive book but you can find used on the internet booksellers or even at your local used bookstore. Feed and water your dog only out of a glass or stainless steel bowl never out of plastic dishes. Don’t store anything in plastic containers or be tempted to heat something in the microwave in a plastic container – ever.

    Even some big companies who sell household storage containers are now because of the plastics scare getting wider attention, making glass storage containers albeit most with plastic lids. Are they more expensive? Yeah – but – they last longer, and are much easier to keep completely clean, better than trying to get grease off of a plastic container that’s for sure.

    If you have to use plastic food storage bags or sandwich bags, get “green” wax paper and wrap the item in nontoxic wax paper before placing in plastic. Cook in stainless steel not aluminum which also leaches toxics. Filter your own water and stop buying the pre-bottled waters and use stainless steel travel containers instead of a plastic bottle.

    Get rid of the plastic in your home and while you’re at it consider the truly damaging chemicals in most modern carpets and flooring including formaldehyde and decide if you really want that new carpet which just might contribute to your pets’ (or your) illness and death.

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      May 25, 2012 5:02 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Susan

      Rox – that refrigerator is a good point – and potentially just as lethal, but unless it’s actually touching the food itself, highly unlikely that it is leaching.

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        May 25, 2012 5:03 pmPosted 2 years ago
        Suan

        Sorry Rox – that message was meant for Melissa! HAHA

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    May 25, 2012 3:33 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Lilliana

    Yet we were just told by our vet to stop giving our dogs real bones. I dare say they’re probably safer than plastic, if this is the case!

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      November 25, 2012 1:22 amPosted 1 year ago
      Anonymous

      Lilliana

      “Yet we were just told by our vet to stop giving our dogs real bones. I dare say they’re probably safer than plastic, if this is the case!”

      vet also tell pet owners to vaccinate their pets. they dont tell pet owners that most if not all the vaccines contain Thiomersal (ethyl mercury) as the preservative!

      mercury is the most poisonous non radioactive element.

      why should pets die of cancer at a young age, or at all!!

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    May 25, 2012 3:34 pmPosted 2 years ago
    John

    My dogs only get non toxic rubber toys and raw food and they are never better. Plus they like to play with watermelon husks too LOL

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    May 25, 2012 3:35 pmPosted 2 years ago
    John

    I would understand giving them wreck bones as it breaks teeth which you can’t see it happening but if they bite down on something hard it will break over time.

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  • May 25, 2012 3:36 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Laura

    Our dog doesn’t chew on plastic toys, and he doesn’t have a plastic bowl. He used to have a small one upstairs but I got rid of it. He eats rotisserie chicken and we don’t store dog food in plastic. Thanks for the article.

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  • May 25, 2012 3:37 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Denise

    I have been teaching chemistry since the early 90′s. I do not use plastic for my family which includes my dogs. I recommend this to my students as well.

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    May 25, 2012 3:38 pmPosted 2 years ago
    John

    Seems even vaccines are causing issue too like the lyme vac which if your dog gets it lyme from that its uncureable and untreatable but if they get it from a tick its different doesn’t make sense to me at all and the lyme vac is only 60% protection not 100%

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  • May 25, 2012 3:39 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Stephanie

    Wish we could afford Blue Buffalo. Have wanted to switch to them for quite a while now

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  • May 25, 2012 3:40 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Kaitlyn

    Denise Bianca, how do you store your human food? Seriously, just wondering! I’ve always been worried about tupperware

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  • May 25, 2012 3:46 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Suzanne

    never ever give my dogs anything plastic,they eat and drink from metal bowls<3

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    May 25, 2012 3:47 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Jeanne

    I cook for my dogs using a recipe the vet gave me and add dog vitamins and fish oil. It’s cheaper than bagged and their teeth look good still. I store the portions in zip baggies in the freezer and reuse the baggies several times, lastly using them to pick up after them on walks. I avoid placing any food in plastic especially if it has a “greasy” feel to the plastic.

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      May 27, 2012 5:14 amPosted 2 years ago
      Anonymous

      Wait Zip Baggies are plastic and you reuse them probably not good!

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    May 25, 2012 3:48 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Katt

    No plastic toys, bowls ;O) I heard about this plastic problem and got rid of it all.

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    May 25, 2012 3:49 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Sandra

    Hmmm……im gonna start storing his food in a glass bowl.He dont play with plastic toys so thats no concern for me there.

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    May 25, 2012 3:51 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Lilliana

    ….but the zip baggies are made from plastic, Jeanne. Or do you use a special brand with no BPA? I’m curious about that recipe, too.

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    May 25, 2012 3:52 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Katt

    Thanks, John, I didn’t know that.

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    May 25, 2012 3:52 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Kimie

    Has anyone here done the research on RFID chips?

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    May 25, 2012 3:57 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Mandi

    I feed a raw diet too, but can’t think of a way to store the food not using plastic. I buy in bulk so I can’t afford to buy enough glass storage containers for 150 lbs of meat! I’m interested in any suggestions that anyone has!

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      November 25, 2012 1:25 amPosted 1 year ago
      Anonymous

      wash the meat before serving

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    May 25, 2012 3:57 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Katt

    I had switch from #3 on plastic containers (like Taupeware) to #5. It was supposed to be better quality plastic. Then I heard that plastic is plastic and eventually will toxic our food and my furkids :O( Better safe then sorry. I think ceramic is not much better (???) I use stainless steel for my furkids, but I eat out of ceramic plates.

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    May 25, 2012 4:00 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Sandra

    His food dishes are ceramic also…..

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    May 25, 2012 4:01 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Yell

    Thanks for the info! Time for many changes to take place.

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    May 25, 2012 4:02 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Jackie

    Excellent article – My Dog is 15 1/2 and diabetic – I switched over to homecooked meals 4 years ago at diagnosis and store her meals (only two days at a time) in glass containers in the fridge. She has relinquished her squeaky toys for homemade “sock toys” with flappy legs and gets a kick out of wacking them from side to side so that they hit her (gently) in the face – gets her annoyed…. so she fights back at them. I make her homemade treats of chicken jerky in the oven and feed her steamed chicken, green beans and sweet potatoes along with pumpkin (pure 100% – not the pie filling type) and plain nonfat yogurt. I dont trust ANY commercial dog food out there having done a comprehensive study over the past 4 years on ALL of them I was even remotley interested in at the time. And…its all done with so much love for my girl and surprising less effort than you would think. ♥

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    May 25, 2012 4:02 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Kelly Ingersoll

    What about the freezer food that come all prepackaged?

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      May 25, 2012 4:18 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Susan

      Unless it specifically says BPA FREE you should assume that it is not. Unfortunately the companies I called either didn’t know or didn’t care to comment.

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    May 25, 2012 4:23 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Susan

    @Jeanne Brown plastic zip baggies are loaded with BPA and freezing them leaches the chemical into the food even faster. I would store in glass or aluminum foil and NOT use plastic. As the article says extremes in hot and cold leach even worse.

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    May 25, 2012 4:25 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Susan

    @Mandi – ask the butcher to wrap the meat in the butcher paper INSIDE OUT – anything shiny on one side has plastic – but inside out and the meat will be protected – THEN put it in plastic and the chemicals won’t leach through.

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  • May 25, 2012 4:48 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Mark

    All packaged dog foods are doing the same. Feed Raw Diet

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  • May 25, 2012 4:48 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Brooke

    I’ve cut down on plastic in our home but how do you avoid it all together un todays world? I raw feed my dogs deer & other wild game that I butcher myself, wrap it in plastic wrap then paper to freeze since I only get the deer during hunting season so I get a lot in a short time so wrapping & freezing is a must. Ideas to avoid plastic wrap without the meat drying out in the freezer?

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    May 25, 2012 4:58 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Melissa

    So what about that big old hunk of plastic called the refrigerator? Is it leaching BPA too?

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      May 25, 2012 5:03 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Susan

      that refrigerator is a good point – and potentially just as lethal, but unless it’s actually touching the food itself, highly unlikely that it is leaching.

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  • May 25, 2012 5:00 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Melissa

    So what about the fridge? Its made of plastic. Is it leaching BPA into our foods?

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    May 25, 2012 5:10 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Cris

    Be sure you are not using cheap aluminum either. Go for stainless steel.

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    May 25, 2012 5:11 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Cris

    Every can of food is lined with plastic too.

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    May 25, 2012 5:44 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Erin

    Easy there, people! There’s a LOT of bad science and sensationalization here.

    BPA is primarily used in polycarbonate (car headlights, hard plastic bottles) and epoxy resins (adhesives, fiberglass). These are NOT the nylon bones, polyethylene bowls, and rubber toys your dog is likely to put in his mouth.

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      May 25, 2012 8:41 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Cindy

      Erin, thanks for a calm voice among the hysteria. Not all plastics contain BPA and most are marked now and easy to find. You will pay more for the BPA-free stuff. And yes, Nylabones are fine. I never store any food in plastic or in Zip bags. Human or canine-everything in the freezer is stored in glass. Now, if you’re buying your plastic containers in the Dollar Store you can be sure they’re JUNK from China and full of all kinds of terrible things…but not all plastics are bad.
      Imagine all those bags of IV fluids and blood…and all the tubing and syringes, and ventilators, etc. etc. Are you going to stop using ALL plastics??I think not.

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      May 25, 2012 9:54 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Anonymous

      BPA is used in soft plastics as well as many of the toys, chews, etc. You can claim there’s bad science here but you don’t offer any studies to the contrary just conjecture. Rubber is not in questions here – just plastic, I don’t believe Susan said anything about rubber being bad in any way.

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        May 26, 2012 12:50 amPosted 2 years ago
        Cheryl A.

        If allergic to Latex, which is becoming more and more common that’s also an issue with rubber toys, yet I know vinyl have plastic, trapped to avoid both?

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    May 25, 2012 5:53 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Linda

    never have given plastic anything to my dogs…plastic comes from petroleum…YUK!

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  • May 25, 2012 6:14 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Debra

    …been preaching this for years!…although it’s tough going totally non-plastic in a plastic world…but, every little bit helps!!!

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  • May 25, 2012 6:19 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Anonymous

    Sharing! We replaced our plastic bowls with stainless awhile back…

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    May 25, 2012 7:09 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Scott

    “In general, plastics that are marked with recycle codes 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 are very unlikely to contain BPA. Some, but not all, plastics that are marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.” http://www.hhs.gov/safety/bpa/

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    May 25, 2012 7:12 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Susan

    Sorry Scott – I checked with the scientists and that .gov site would like for you to believe that.

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  • May 25, 2012 7:52 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Rosemary

    absolutely!

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    May 25, 2012 8:22 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Suzan

    @Mandi Use parchment paper and then foil.

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      May 25, 2012 9:56 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Susan

      Great idea – parchment paper is great.

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    May 25, 2012 8:35 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Scott

    Susan, during your research, have you run across any studies that quantify levels of BPA used in different plastics? Do polyethylene and polypropylene contain BPA? Do you know of any studies that show BPA is present in PE or PP products? I was under the impression that BPA was only found in polycarbonates and epoxies.

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    May 25, 2012 9:44 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Amy

    Wellness and blue buffalo foods are made by the same manufacturer. Diamond makes blue wilderness. So no on those. Raw is the best way.

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      May 25, 2012 9:50 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Anonymous

      Amy this article is about which foods line their cans with plastic not a discussion about which food you prefer.

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  • May 27, 2012 11:03 amPosted 2 years ago
    Michelle Jacobson

    What about Tupperware. I spent a bloody fortune on my Tupperware. Does anyone know if it’s free from BPA?

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  • September 3, 2012 6:29 amPosted 1 year ago
    green dry cleaners located in studio city

    Generally I do not read article on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very forced me to check out and do so! Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thank you, quite nice post.

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  • April 18, 2013 10:13 amPosted 1 year ago
    Kathy

    It was better to check to mercury and lead content of a plastic container or toys.. How Should we know? Most countries have this bureau who regulates safety of a product, we should look for the approval seal of that bureau to insure the safety of a product. most specially if those toys for our children..

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