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Does Freezing / Microwaving Plastic Containers Release Cancer-Causing Dioxin?

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Netlore Archive: Viral text purporting to relay information from a Johns Hopkins newsletter claims that freezing water in plastic bottles and microwaving foods in plastic wrap releases cancer-causing dioxin.

Description: Forwarded email / Viral text
Circulating since: Feb. 2004 (this version)
Status: False (see details below)


Example #1:
Email contributed by Kathy S., July 16, 2004:

Subject: Plastic and Cancer News from Johns Hopkins

No plastics in micro

No water bottles in freezer..

No plastic wrap in micro

see below..


Subject: Plastic and Cancer news from Johns Hopkins

Johns Hopkins has recently sent this out in their newsletters worth noting...

This information is being circulated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Dioxin Carcinogens causes cancer, especially breast cancer. Don't freeze your plastic water bottles with water as this also releases dioxin in the plastic.

Dr. Edward Fujimoto from Castle hospital was on a TV program explaining this health hazard. (He is the manager of the Wellness Program at the hospital.)

He was talking about dioxin and how bad they are for us. He said that we should not be heating our food in the microwave using plastic containers. This applies to foods that contain fat.

He said that the combination of fat, high heat and plastics releases dioxin into the food and ultimately into the cells of the body.

Dioxin 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 dioxin. So such things as TV dinners, instant ramen and 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. It's 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 towels.

Pass this on to your family & friends & those that are important in you life.


Example #2:
Email example contributed by J. Bleier, Feb. 19, 2004:

Subject: Fw: Cancer from Plastic .check this out !!

{{{You may want to take time to read this one.}}}

Warning---
Cancer from Plastic..... some tennis players freeze H2O in plastic bottles !!

John Hopkins has recently sent this out in their newsletters...worth noting. This information is being circulated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Dioxin Carcinogens causes cancer.

Especially breast cancer. Don't freeze your plastic water bottles with water as this also releases dioxin in the plastic. Dr. Edward Fujimoto from Castle hospital was on a TV program explaining this health hazard.

(He is the manager of the Wellness Program at the hospital.)

He was talking about dioxin and how bad they are for us. He said that we should not be heating our food in the microwave using plastic containers. This applies to foods that contain fat. He said that the combination of fat, high heat and plastics releases dioxin into the food and ultimately into the cells of the body.

Dioxin 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 dioxin.

So such things as TV dinners, instant ramen and 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 towels.

Pass this on to your family & friends & those who are important in you life.


Analysis: This widely circulated email (actually a revised version of an earlier message dating from 2002) not only conveys inaccurate information, it is falsely attributed to a Johns Hopkins University newsletter as well. No such information was ever issued by any department of Johns Hopkins.

To combat the inaccuracies, Professor Rolf Halden of Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health addressed the email's opening allegation in a June 2004 news release:

OC&PA: What do you make of this recent email warning that claims dioxins can be released by freezing water in plastic bottles?

RH: No. This is an urban legend. Freezing actually works against the release of chemicals. Chemicals do not diffuse as readily in cold temperatures, which would limit chemical release if there were dioxins in plastic, and we don't think there are.

The rest of the email's claims are identical to those in the 2002 version and are covered in my previous commentary. See the sources listed below for additional information.


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Sources and further reading:

Researcher Dispels Myth of Dioxins and Plastic Water Bottles
Johns Hopkins Public Health News Center, 24 June 2004

Plastic Rap
Washington Post, 15 September 2004

Microwave Ovens, Plastic Wrap and Dioxin
Urban Legends, updated 5 November 2004

Despite Email Hoax, Freezing Water Bottles OK
NBC5i.com, 20 August 2004


Last updated: 12/12/05


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