As a seventh grade student, Claire Nelson learned that di-ethyl-hexyl-adepate (DEHA), considered a carcinogen, is found in plastic wrap. She also learned that the FDA had never studied the effect of microwave cooking on plastic-wrapped food. Claire began to wonder: "Can cancer-causing particles seep into food covered with household plastic wrap while it is being microwaved?"
Three years later, with encouragement from her high school science teacher, Claire set out to test what the FDA had not. Although she had an idea for studying the effect of microwave radiation on plastic-wrapped food, she did not have the equipment. Eventually, Jon Wilkes at the National Center for Toxicological Research in Jefferson, Arkansas, agreed to help her.
The research center, which is affiliated with the FDA, let her use its facilities to perform her experiments, which involved microwaving plastic wrap in virgin olive oil. Claire tested four different plastic wraps and "found not just the carcinogens but also xenoestrogen was migrating [into the oil]...." Xenoestrogens are linked to low sperm counts in men and to breast cancer in women.
Throughout her junior and senior years, Claire made a couple of trips each week to the research center, which was 25 miles from her home, to work on her experiment.
An article in Options reported that "her analysis found
that DEHA was migrating into the oil at between 200 parts
and 500 parts per million. The FDA standard is 0.05 parts
per billion." Her summarized results have been published
in science journals. Claire Nelson received the American
Society's top science prize for students during her junior
year and fourth place at the International Science and Engineering
Fair (Fort Worth, Texas) as a senior.
"Carcinogens-At 10,000,000 Times FDA Limits" Options May 2000. Published by People Against Cancer, On Channel 2 (Huntsville, AL) this morning they had a Dr. Edward Fujimoto from Castle Hospital on the program. He is the manager of the Wellness Program at the hospital. He was talking about dioxins and how bad they are for us. He said that we should not be heating our food in the microwave or using plastic containers. This applies to foods that contain fat. He said that the combination of fat, high heat and plastics releases dioxins into the food and ultimately into the cells of the body.
Dioxins are carcinogens and highly toxic to the cells of our bodies. Instead, he recommends using glass, Corning Ware, or ceramic containers for heating food. You get the same results without the dioxins. So such things as TV dinners, instant soups, etc., should be removed from the container and heated in something else.
Paper isn't bad but you don't know what is in the paper. Just safer to use tempered glass, Corning Ware, etc. He said we might remember when some of the fast food restaurants moved away from the foam containers to paper. The dioxin problem is one of the reasons.
To add to this: Saran wrap placed over foods as they are nuked, with the high heat, actually drips poisonous toxins into the food. Use paper towel instead.
Sharon L. Clark
Regional Claims Manager, Toronto
AXA Insurance (Canada)