Monday night we had a minor scary experience but it led me to a resolution that I think will be better for my entire family.  My husband and I had just put our son down for the night and we were sitting on the couch talking and watching TV.  Well suddenly we both realized that we smell what we at first thought was a candle burning... so we got up and started looking and sniffing around.  When we walked into the kitchen it became much stronger and we realized it was the smell of burning plastic that we were smelling.  Of course at this point I was getting scared and we were both slightly on panic mode trying to find the source of what we knew was something burning.  We're standing in the middle of the kitchen looking around so confused as to where it was coming from when my husband noticed smoke coming from the dishwasher!  I had just started it before we put our son down for bed.  So we very carefully opened the dishwasher and oh my gosh... horrific fumes and smoke bellowed out and we noticed that a plastic spatula had fallen to the bottom of the dishwasher and melted onto the heating element. 

We were able to get things cleaned up but I had a horrible headache and felt nauseous from inhaling what I could only imagine were toxic fumes from that melted plastic spatula.  I was scared that our son was inhaling the fumes but we checked all the bedrooms and they all had fresh air in them thank goodness.  But the toxicity of those fumes were still freaking me out... although it was freezing we opened all windows and doors and turned on the fan.  As we were trying to air out the house it dawned on me that even though I have made a point to make sure my son's dishes and utensils were all free from toxic chemicals... it was obvious from this little experience that my son's dishes is where I had stopped.  Obviously this spatula that I had and used all the time was FAR from being free of toxins.  I took a look around and noticed immediately the plastic cooking utensils I had sitting around the kitchen and I took them all and put them in the recycling bin.

This all lead to a research adventure of mine that took place most of yesterday... But I am so happy I did because I now know what the safe options are and our kitchen is slowly but surely going to get a plastic free makeover.  Now don't get me wrong... everything that I currently have for our son is BPA free which was a great start but I've read that there are still risks in the use of even BPA free plastic so I feel better just not using plastic at all... especially now that I've found some awesome alternatives that I will list below.  Don't get me wrong... BPA free plastic will probably be used where I have no control or other options such as a high chair tray... I looked at the bottom of my son's tray and it had an arrow pointing to that awful #7 which basically says that it is made of a combination of different plastics and ingredients and is more than likely NOT BPA free BUT it is possible that it is, so you have to search for the "BPA Free" label. Lucky #5 is what I was hoping for which is polypropylene and is BPA free.  I sent an email to First Years, the maker of the high chair we have, asking if the tray is in fact BPA free since it's possible.  Still waiting for a reply.  For now... we have stopped using his tray and we are using his high chair as a booster seat instead.  And yay!  I just ran over to my newly organized bathroom and looked at the bottom of those plastic bins and they are the lovely #5!! Whoo!!!

After all my research there are actually several things that will be replaced in our kitchen including our ceramic dishes and bakeware, all Teflon/Non Stick pots and pans, and of course plastic.  Some great alternatives that I discovered are silicone, an inert material that does not react with food and does not toxins... Sengware Tableware, 100% lead and cadmium free, stainless steel, cast iron, bamboo and of course glass.  This transition will not be immediate because frankly it's not affordable for us to do a complete overhaul but in the meantime I feel good about having gotten rid of the plastic material in our kitchen and I have ordered silicone tableware for our son which I feel is the biggest priority.  If you're inspired to give your kitchen a safer makeover remember that the length at which you choose to make changes are a personal decision.  Say you are totally comfortable with the idea of having BPA free plastics, that is GREAT, just take it maybe one step further by not putting them in the dishwasher or microwave which can further cause the plastic to leach toxic chemicals. 

Below is a list of resources that I found and some FABULOUS alternatives to consider... As soon as I get our son's silicone tableware I'll let you know how we like it!  Remember... do your research!  Make personal but educated decisions on how best to protect your family. 

Dangers of Teflon
All About Plastic
Dangers of Melamine (the very colorful hard plastic dishes usually made for children)

Is Silicone Safe?
Sengware (Lead and cadmium free ceramic tableware)
Le Creuset
Lunch Bots (Stainless steel tableware for children)
Kinder-Ville (Silicone tableware for children)
3/24/2012 07:41:14 pm

Its awesome post. Its very helpfull & neccesarry.

8/15/2012 11:48:21 pm

Thank god no harm has been done very important post guys it is important to have a plastic free kitchen area.

3/14/2013 06:33:56 am

Thank you for this. I have been searching all over the internet. I had my cupcake holder in the oven and it melted all over and smelled horrific. I just looked at the bottom and it says plastic number 5. Thank you for putting me at ease. I was really nervous about the fumes


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