Heat and plastic

So I’m sitting here drinking tea out of a cheap plastic glass and wondering if I’m being slowly poisoned to death.

Is just-under-boiling water hot enough to dissolve hard plastics? The glass doesn’t become soft when I put the water in, if that makes any difference.

Actually, that’s something of an issue in the scientific community right now, though not so much with the plastic itself but with the hardeners used in its manufacture. I think cups and whatnot are pretty much safe (besides, your digestive tract is pretty good and clearing out bad stuff), but the main issue is with things like IV lines and such, where there are some fears that it may be getting sent into your bloodstream. Most tests and consumer safety people seem to think they’re ok, but there is still a good bit of debate.

Hmmm…I guess it depends on what type of plastic you got there…there are a lot of polymers that melt in the 80-100 C range…and there are some that melt at higher temps. But most likely you’re not causing any chemical reaction to take place, so the cup is not dissolving into your tea…Any corrections on this are welcome.

The hardener’s would be the only problem in any case, as I understand it. The basic polymers themselves, especially any designed to come in contact with foods, are totally edible when fully cured. They wouldn’t taste good, and you wouldn’t want to eat them on purpose, but as I understand it they are unlikely to hurt you other than if you ate large quantities, sharp pieces that would cut you up, or that type of thing. IIRC injection molded stuff, like plastic cups, don’t have any hardeners in them, so it shouldn’t be an issue. Added coloring might be a problem, but probably is looked at pretty carefully by manufacturers.

Hardeners are mostly for the solusetting plastics, like fiberglass, epoxy, bondo, etc. Not the thermosetting stuff you would eat off of under normal conditions.

I spilled a drop of a hardener on my finger once, in plastic’s shop, and the skin died where it touched to about 1/16 inch. It was like a little fish-belly white circle on my fingertip. Nasty, nasty stuff. Glad I was wearing goggles, wish I had been wearing gloves (as I had been instructed to).