The use of plastic containers, wraps, and packaging is dominating in our society. We are well aware how it affects our planet but we are not on the safer side either. In a recent research Norwegian University found 9936 chemicals in plastic food packaging that are harming us in different ways.

Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology tested food packing from 5 countries. They found that even a piece of cling film from the UK had nearly 9,000 different chemicals in it. Their study underscored the harmful impact these chemicals can have on body functions and signal transmission. Tests in the lab further revealed that extracts from many of these products turned cell receptors on or off.

Professor Martin Wagner, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology Department of Biology, said, “Plastic products we’re using every day contain many unknown chemicals. This is a major problem for scientists, policymakers, and even for producers.”

Prof. Wagner, along with PhD candidates Molly McPartland and Sarah Stevens, the lead authors of both studies, aimed to investigate this by identifying these chemicals. They sought to determine if these chemicals could have significant health impacts.

The team published another study during the same time. The researchers screened plastic additives and extracts to determine if they could bind to and potentially disrupt over 100 G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). These proteins sit on cell surfaces and are crucial for cell signaling and bodily functions. Certain samples strongly engage with two GPCRs, which might connect to circadian and metabolic activities.

They also analyzed if the plastic extracts interacted with the four crucial cell receptors. They tested for their interaction with estrogen and androgen receptors, which are vital for the endocrine system.


Researchers used non-targeted MS to identify a whole chemical range. They used pure methanol for chemical extraction.

  • This thorough approach discovered 16,846 distinct chemical characteristics.
  • The study found that a food container has only 37 characteristics.
  • A piece of polyvinyl chloride cling film had 9,936. Prof. Wagner thinks this is equal to roughly 9,000 chemicals.
  • Extracts from all polymer types tested either activated or inhibited one or more receptors.
  • For the first time, plastic chemicals have been observed to interact with GPCRs.
  • They found that extracts from plastic food packaging with fewer chemicals showed lower biological activity.
  • Certain chemicals are purposefully added, like plasticizers and stabilizers.
  • Other chemicals in plastics can form due to secondary reactions, impurities in the initial materials.

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Collecting Samples from 5 Countries

The researchers collected samples from Norway, the US, the UK, South Korea, and Germany. They asked their friends and colleagues to go to supermarkets to obtain plastic packaging for them.

The research focused on 36 plastic items that come in contact with our food and drinks directly. This included cling film, milk bottles, sausage packaging, and hydration bladders similar to those for hiking. The samples covered the 7 most commonly used types of plastic.

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Consequences of 9936 Chemicals in Plastic Food Packaging

Many of the chemicals the researchers identified in the plastic food packaging are not to be taken lightly. They can actively disturb important bodily functions. This can potentially cause long-term health effects.

  • Some chemicals can mimic or obstruct the natural signals regulating our metabolism, making it less efficient. It also affects energy levels, weight management, and how our body utilizes vitamins and minerals.
  • Chemicals in plastic packaging can disturb hormonal balance, by copying or blocking natural hormones. This affects growth rate, reproduction cycle, immune system, and behavior patterns.
  • This research unveiled additional ways in which these chemical mixtures can influence signal transmission in the body.
  • A different research team demonstrated a few years ago that most plastics leach chemicals when dumped in water.

The Norwegian University found 9936 chemicals in plastic food packaging and strongly recommends changes in plastic manufacturing. According to them, either plastic packaging should be substituted with affordable and better products. Or the manufacturing process must be improvised to reduce chemical usage.

Source: Plastic Food Packaging from Five Countries Contains Endocrine


Elliot is a passionate environmentalist and blogger who has dedicated his life to spreading awareness about conservation, green energy, and renewable energy. With a background in environmental science, he has a deep understanding of the issues facing our planet and is committed to educating others on how they can make a difference.

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