Super Science Fair Projects Respond to Possible Threat of Plastic Food Containers

Last week we talked about the Intel Science Talent Competition and how it is providing over half a million dollars in scholarships to high school students across the country. This week I’d like to talk about a science news story that both alarmed me and intrigued me. The story is based on findings that people have traces of plastic in their bodies.

Now I’m not talking about plastic shards lodged in body parts, I am talking about very small particles of plastic compounds being infused in our very metabolic system. The compound that was discovered is BPA, which stands for bispheral A. This is a common ingredient for polycarbonates which are used to line food and beverage containers as well as to make items like baby bottles and food storage containers. The findings from this study showed that 92 percent of the 2,500 people tested had minute traces of BPA in their urine. While the amounts BPA were very minute, only “a few parts per million,” the impact on our health is still significant.

The reaction our bodies have to ingested BPA can be detrimental to our overall health. Problems with the reproductive system, digestive system and weight can all develop because of traces of BPA in our systems. What does this mean to students and science class? Well, as long term impacts of plastic use continue to be studied, students may need to focus their energies on looking at plastic alternatives.

Try starting a classroom discussion with this questions, “If plastic is determined to be hazardous to our health and is removed from the market, what else can we use instead of plastic?”

Questions like this one can be a great way to springboard science fair project ideas. Find other sources of inspiration from kid science magazines and intriguing science fair project websites.

42 Responses

  1. acne remedy
    Using your own cloth bag instead of plastic or paper bags reduces waste.
  2. Jon@absolutemartialarts
    I used plastic containers for my food and after reading I'm having second thoughts. This topic is very helpful. I will try to use banana leaf, when we were young our mother put our food in a banana leaf.
  3. Joey@Gochi Juice
    I didn't know plastics could harm us in that way. Now I got it why some of the ASIAN countries have banned the uses of plastic bags.
  4. Kari@Baby Gifts USA
    This article brings up an excellent point. The real question is, are there any affordable alternatives to plastic, or can any affordable alternatives be developed?
  5. Henry
    Plastic in our bodies? It's horrible. Maybe it is difficult to avoid plastic totally. What if plastic is mixed with other material that is more environment friendly? More production cost, I guess...
    • sunshine
      It is still plastic isn't it?
  6. taislim
    Plastics are generally hazardous to the environment. One should think twice before using apalstic container, shopping bags, etc. Now the presence of plastic in our body is truly alarming. I neevr knew that this is possible. This article is very informative. I wouldsurely research more on this topic. Thanks for the info.
  7. Mike
    Let us all start campaigning about this hazard. Please pass on this info to all of you know. This would definitely create some awareness.
  8. Refrigerator water filters
    Swab tests of reusable bags last November revealed a bacteria count of 1,800 colony-forming units while 550 were discovered in Tupperware containers. A mould count of 290 was discovered in bags and 10 Tupperware compared with a typical mold count of 150 or less per cubic metre of room air at that time of year.
  9. aditya@Sutton Physiotherapy
    Hi, It is great post. you raise a great point. Plastics bag are really a great problem now. We must take action by using more reusable products like old fashioned bottles. Thanks for sharing.
  10. Southampton dental implants
    This is a great way to campaign for more "green" environment. PLastics has never been good to the environment.
  11. Tom@Priligy
    I agree with what Mike says on creating awareness and stimulating people to use reusable packaging alternatives, there's enough alternatives on the market. Companies must become aware of renewable packaging materials as well.
  12. Tom@Priligy
    Using plastic boxes that can be reused is a good option. Get a lunchbox instead of wrapping your sandwiches in plastic!
  13. Video Games
    Thanks for your idea.. The plastic hazard issue is also become a great attention in my country
  14. Video Games
    I came from Indonesia, and the use of plastics are in the tremendous amount here.. And the latest news, there's also a misuse of plastic. some people put plastic when frying a food so that the food can be crunchy..
  15. G. Mark @ help baby sleep
    I didn't know about using plastic containers could be this harmful. I've given my children their drinks in plastic cups to prevent them from breaking glass. I'll stop that now for sure. thanks for the info.
  16. Matt@get rif of warts
    I agree with you,I have been resaerching a lot into plastic, and especially using plastic in microwaves where the particles get heated, this is really bad. I am switching to stainless steel containers and glass. Thanks for the good info.
  17. Baby Boutique
    It's crazy that we've been using these bottles for so long, and only now we realize the dangers of them - especially to small children. Thanks for the info!
  18. Linda@Slimming
    Well that's really not good is it. Where did you hear this information? Can you provide a link to an article or something for further information? Thanks.
  19. David@Plastic Injection Molding
    I heard it mostly for water bottles and to look for a number 7 in the code on the bottom. Guess the 7 is bad.
  20. Medical Insurance
    I saw it on CNN, like David said, look for the 7 on the bottom of the bottle. They say the BPA causes anger control issues in pre-teen girls.
  21. Mini Skip
    Very thought provoking. I wonder if there is any evidence out there that these traces of BPA can bring about the onset of various forms of cancer too. Only time will tell but it wouldn't surprise me.
  22. club penguin cheats
    I used plastic containers for my food and after reading I’m having second thoughts. This topic is very helpful. I will try to use banana leaf, when we were young our mother put our food in a banana leaf.
  23. Jay@Aquasana
    We are finding out more and more about the additives we add to both our food and our utensils. The Romans had to deal with lead. We have to deal with plastic. Our family switched over to use either glass or stainless steel for our water containers and now use glass storage containers for our food
  24. dental assistant training
    I think that plastic is just all around bad - now after reading this even worse. I always new that it was messing up our carbon cycle, killing sea life, etc, but never knew it could be found in most peoples bodies....Eww..they should replace all plastic with some type of aluminum, at least that is something that can be recycled once it is thrown away as junk! :)
  25. jinnie@gist
    It’s a sad fact that people care more about how they look now instead of worrying about what can happen to you down the road. people know that plastic containers are bad for them but they continue using them.
  26. Alex
    Plastic containers are all around us; they are used to store food, hold water and other beverages, or even house our medications. With all of the different types of plastic being used, do you know which ones are really safe?
    • sunshine
      That is a great question and one that someone can take on as a science fair project!
  27. Stan@ Cancer Life Insurance
    The compound, Bisphenol A (BPA) is a component of polycarbonate and other polymers used to make bottles for beverages. BPA is often chosen for a drinking water container because it is strong, but not heavy, like glass. However, research has shown that individuals, who consume Bisphenol A, tend to have a greater risk of certain types of cancers. Additionally, BPA can potentially interfere with hormone levels.
  28. Reverse Osmosis
    Great article. I am shocked of the 2500 people, that 92% had some trace of BPA in their system, that is very scary. My wife and I switched recently from plastic sport bottles to stainless steel sport bottles to avoid any risk of BPA. Hopefully studies like this will change the way our products are made(using an alternative plastic). Thanks.
  29. Best Teeth Whitener
    Plastic is really bad,espcially if you leave bottles with water in them sitting in the sun and then you drink the water, because the chemicals seep into the water
  30. Smoothie Guy
    I've started hearing alot about this recently as well. A particularly bad (and common) one is re-using plastic drink bottles. If you live somewhere like me (NZ) and can drink water from the tap, then it's very common to reuse bottled-water bottles. But apparently after 6 or so uses, the plastic starts emmitting chemical that is essentially poisonous.... dodgy as. I hadn't heard as much about general plastic packaging, but am going to have to read up a bit more now.
  31. Reusable Bags
    I've been reading that plastic bag makers have pointed to some research showing that reusable bags are unhygienic in order to put off food shoppers - it seems plastic bags probably aren't either...
  32. Gavelect
    Did you read the story's in the papers this morning about the futuristic "plasma jet" that eradicates tooth decay without fillings could be replacing the dentist's drill in as little as three years, a study claims. The space-age device fires a beam of electrically charged oxygen atoms into tooth cavities to obliterate decay-causing bacteria without pain. The study has shown that firing low-temperature plasma beams at dentine – the fibrous tooth structure below the enamel – can reduce bacteria levels by up to 10,000 times. Plasmas are produced when atoms in a gas are stripped of one or more of their electrons, leaving them positively charged. This is a great breakthrough. Not that I know what a plasma thingy migigy is but the fact I may never need to experance my teeth getting drilled will make me sleep better at night.Gav @ dental insurance UK
  33. sara@Yeast Infection Relief
    This is a very enlightening post. 2,500 people have been found with traces of BPA in their urine? Now that's really alarming. People really need to be more conscious and informed about the possible effects of each and every product that they'll be using on their health!
  34. Anne Smith@hypertension
    Like the site, just responding to the article the source is probabaly "Bisphenol A" not as stated a common agent found in curing agents for plastics. Natural is best, organic is better.
  35. jay morrison
    Well I'm pushing 40 years old and I can't come up with an answer to that question. As long as humans are creating the stuff we package stuff in - there's always going to be possible hazards.
  36. jinnie@Fat Loss Diets
    I avoid carrying plastic bags now-a-days. Instead have a big shopper bag and small handy coir bags with me always to use while shopping. I also return the bag given during shopping so that they could also save some pennies!
  37. Storage Tanks
    Interesting indeed. A lot of people are now relying on plastic containers to transport fresh food which I think is really a bad thing. Even bottled water has it's problems and we are constantly advised not to re use bottled water bottles.
  38. oliviya@koozies
    I like the idea that the bottle is more environment friendly. I recently bought a bag in box wine that was recyclable, pretty good that people start to think of the environment.
  39. Garmin GPS Systems
    This information is bit incomplete, I must say that the homework was done really good, but the problem came when you tried to assemble this information and present it. No doubt you did your best and I appreciate the fact that this will help as well, you should read other posts as well to make your posting really to the point and really understandable. I will PM you some of the threads about this topic so that the next time you visit the forum and post something really informative like this, it will be more effective and helpful to all.
  40. Koozie Pricing
    I also agree with the idea that the bottle is more environment friendly. I have experience with it and I think it is good