Have you ever wondered about those bright plastic toys your pets love? What are they actually made of? What difference could a little toy make in their lives, anyway?
The next blog posts will review basic information about “Plastic”. It is a dense subject so… dive right in!
Plastics are used widely. In fact, the use of plastic is so common we often don’t think about its presence. This commonness has rendered it nearly invisible. So—plastics are effectively everywhere, but what makes a plastic, a plastic?
Simply put, a plastic is a polymer. (poly= many & mer=units) Plastic= many units stuck together. This process is called polymerization. Some think polymerization creates stable chains that are not biologically active. While this may be true when a plastic is actually made, this is definitely not true as time and use impacts its structure. To understand this degradation process a bit more information is needed.Almost all polymers (plastic) also contain independent units called monomers. Sometimes these individual units have simply escaped the polymerization process. They might also be residue from techniques used to give the plastic a unique functional characteristic. Destructive processes such as chewing, grinding, aging, heating, and micro waving can also release monomers from the polymer chain. Monomers are biologically active, easily passing from the plastic surface to anything they come in contact with.
For our purposes you might think of degradation processes as: puppy teeth, a hot car, toys laying in the sun, an old favorite squeaky toy, kitties sucking on a brightly colored plastic fleece toy, etc.
But still, why should we care, there are sooo many things to worry about after all! It is just a really little monomer—what harm could it do? In mice, these little units have been shown to cause birth defects, fetal death and damage to liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive organs. Hormone disruption is a huge issue as well—especially for puppies.Plastics 2 coming up!