Plastics, Rubber and Health

Plastics, Rubber and Health

Author: Guneri Akovali
ISBN 978-1-84735-081-7 

Soft-backed, 310 pages
Plastics and rubber are two very different, important materials which are used a great deal in our everyday life, both in indoors and outdoors. However, there is still, the controversy surrounding the use of certain polymers and there are also some misconceptions surrounding their use.

In recent years there have been certain scare stories about the possible negative effects on human health from some of these materials. However, today it is realised that it is often not the polymers themselves, but their monomers or the additives used that are responsible for these negative effects. And the reality is that a lot of polymers are used in medical applications without adverse effects on patients. Hence, the dividing line between whether something is toxic and harmful to health or not (and if it is, under what conditions) is a very critical issue and therefore, there needs to be a better understanding of these systems.

This book presents the available information on the eternal triangle of plastics and rubber and health, to enable a better understanding of the facts.


1 Introduction

2 Some Basic Concepts and Definitions
2.1 Plastics and Rubbers and Health, in Brief
2.2 A Brief Account of ‘Chemicals’ and ‘Human Health’
2.2.1 Chemicals that Cause Health Hazards
2.2.2 Carcinogen(ic)s
2.2.3 Endocrine Disrupters (ECD)
2.3 A Final Note
Appendix 2.A.1 Some Organic Indoor Pollutant Classifications by WHO
Appendix 2.A.2 Some Definitions of Lethal and Toxic Doses and Concentrations
Appendix 2.A.3 Inherent Toxicity Levels of Chemicals Hazardous to Health (OSHA)
Appendix 2.A.4 Some OSHA and ACGIH Definitions of Exposure Limits

3 General Issues of Toxicity for Plastics and Rubber
3.1 Plastics and Rubber, In Brief
3.1.1 Combinations of Plastics, Combinations of Rubbers
3.2 Additives
3.2.1 Migration of Additives
3.2.2 Antistatic (Electrostatic-discharge-dissipating) (ESD) Intentional Additives
3.2.3 Colorants
3.2.4 Curing Agents, Cure Accelerators, Crosslinkers (XL)
3.2.5 Coupling Agents and Compatibilisers
3.2.6 Foaming (Blowing) Agents
3.2.7 Stabilisers
3.2.8 Impact Modifiers
3.2.9 Nucleating Agents
3.2.10 Plasticisers (Flexibilisers)
3.2.11 Preservatives (Antimicrobials, Biocides)
3.2.12 Processing Aids (or Polymer Processing Additives, PPA)
3.2.13 Compatibilisers (Adhesion Promoters)
3.2.14 Other Intentional and Unintentional Additives
3.3 Health Hazards of Heavy Metals and Heavy Metal Ions
3.3.1 Some Elements, Common Heavy Metals and Heavy Metal Ions
3.4 Regulatory Bodies for Heavy Metals and Metal Ions
3.5 Toxic Chemicals from Degradation, Combustion, and Sterilisation of Plastics and Rubbers
3.6 Effect of Migrant Compounds on Taste and Odour
Web Sites

4 Toxicity of Rubber and Plastics Due to their Non-Additive Ingredients
4.1 General Outline
4.2 Polymers, Monomers, Oligomers
4.2.1 Thermopolymers/Thermoplastics
4.2.2 Thermosets and some Thermoset Composites
4.2.3 Rubbers/Elastomers
4.3 Some Additional Notes on the Toxic Chemicals Evolving from Degradation, Combustion and Sterilisation of Polymers
4.3.1 On Toxics from Degradation of Polymers
4.3.2 Toxic Compounds from Combustion, Thermo-Oxidative Degradation, Sterilisation and Others
Some Additional References

5 Plastics as Food and Packaging Materials, Rubbers in Contact with Food, and their Possible Health Effects
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Outline of Plastics Packaging and Possible Health Effects Involved
5.2.1 Why Plastics in Packaging?
5.2.2 Types of Plastics Used in Packaging
5.2.3 Types and Forms of Plastics Packaging
5.2.4 Smart Packaging
5.2.5 Active Packaging (Antimicrobial Packaging with Biocidal Polymers)
5.3 Rubbers Used in Contact With Food and Possible Health Effects
5.3.1 Some Rubber Types Used in Contact with Food
5.3.2 Issue of Monomers and Oligomers (Left) in Rubbers
5.3.3 Issue of Vulcanisation Agents (and Cure Products) Left in Rubbers
5.3.4 Plasticisers and Antidegradants in Rubbers
5.3.5 Migration from Food-Contact Rubbers and Some Tests
Some Additional Related Literature

6 Plastics Use in Healthcare and Their Possible Health Effects
6.1 Plastics in Biomedical and Healthcare Applications
6.1.1 ‘Commodity’ and ‘Specialty’ Medical Plastics
6.2 Fibre Reinforced Plastics as Medical Materials
6.3 Direct Use of Synthetic Polymers as Drugs and Therapeutic Agents
6.4 Dental Resin Composites
6.5 Use of Polymers in Dialysis
6.6 Ophthalmic, Prostheses and Other Applications of Medical Polymers

7 Plastics and Rubbers Applications in Construction and Their Possible Health Effects
7.1 Introduction
7.2 Indoor Air Quality and Sick Building Syndrome
7.2.1 What is Sick Building Syndrome?
7.2.2 Possible Sources of IAQ/Sick Building Syndrome Problems, in General, and Some Solutions
7.2.3 Four Elements of Sick Building Syndrome
7.3 Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)
7.3.1 Possible Sources of VOC
7.3.2 Permissible Limits for VOC Indoors
7.4 Risk Management and Some Notes on Toxic Compounds that can be Found in Indoor Spaces
7.4.1 Risk Management
7.5 Some Notes on Toxic Materials that can be Found Indoors
7.5.1 Endocrine Disrupters (ECD) and Some Suspected ECD Agents Indoors
7.5.2 Effect of Some Plastics, Rubbers and Wood-Related Materials on the Indoors Atmosphere in Houses
7.5.3 Some Construction Applications and Related Possible Health Hazards Indoors
Some Additional Related Bibliography
A-7.1 Radon Indoors

8 Use of Plastic and Rubber in Various Applications and Possible Health Effects
8.1 Plastic and Rubber Use in Sports and Leisure and Possible Health Effects
8.1.1 Plastics and Rubbers as ‘Artificial Surfaces’ in Sports and Leisure
8.1.2 Plastic and Rubber Use as ‘Clothing’ in Sports and Leisure
8.1.3 Plastics and Rubbers Use in ‘Water and Motor Sports’
8.2 Automotive and Transportation Applications
8.2.1 Why Use Plastics and Rubbers in Automotive Applications?
8.2.2 Which Plastic/Rubber to Use for Automotive Applications?
8.3 Plastic Use in Agriculture and Possible Health Effects
8.4 Plastic and Rubber in Electric and Electronics Applications, Their Health Effects
8.5 Outline of Plastics Use as Other Consumer Products and Possible Health Effects
Some Additional Related Literature

9 Sustainability Through Plastics and Rubbers
9.1 Sustainability in General
9.2 The EU - Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS)
9.3 A Briefing on Environmental Laws and Sustainable Use of Plastics and Rubbers
9.3.1 Plastics, Rubbers and the Environment
9.3.2 Plastics and Rubbers Waste
9.3.3 Polymers from Natural Renewable Sources (Sustainability Through Green Polymers)
9.3.4 Sustainability Through Additives
Some Additional Related References

10 List of Some Health Hazard Causing Solvents, Monomers and Chemicals Common for Plastics and Rubbers
Some Additional Related References

11 Short Lists of Some Extremely Hazardous Substances and IARC Groups 1, 2a, 2b, 3 and 4 Carcinogens Related to Plastics and Rubbers
11.1 A List of Some Extremely Hazardous Substances Related to Plastics and Rubbers
11.2 A Brief List of IARC Group 1 Carcinogens for Chemicals Related to Plastics and Rubbers
11.3 A Brief List of IARC Group 2A Carcinogens for Chemicals Related to Plastics and Rubbers
11.5 A Brief List of IARC Group 3 Carcinogens for Chemicals Related to Plastics and Rubbers
11.6 A Brief List of IARC Group 4 Carcinogens for Chemicals Related to Plastics and Rubbers


Guneri AKOVALI is a Professor Emeritus, at the Middle East Technical University (METU) of Ankara. He is a Chemical Engineer, with an MSc and Ph.D. (the latter earned for work on Polymer Chemistry and Physics). He was a staff member of the Departments. of Chemistry and Polymer Science and Technology, of METU, until his retirement. He is the founder of the Department of Polymer Science and technology of METU. He also worked for at Princeton University and the University of California (at Berkeley) as a visiting scientist, at different times in his career.

Professor Akovali is one of the founding members of the Turkish Polymer Engineering and Science Society and the Asian Polymer Federation, and he is currently the Deputy President of the latter. He is the Turkish representative for the European Polymer Federation.

Professor Akovali has written over 150 scientific papers, which have been published in leading refereed international scientific journals, in addition to a number of other technical articles. He has written four books and acted as General Editor for seven books.