Do your kids chew gum? Mine do. Not all the time, but once in a while. They love to chomp on a piece of gum-working hard to perfect their bubble blowing skills. This time of year there are many more requests for gum in our house. It’s baseball little league season and gum and baseball seem to go hand in hand. How could it not when they watch their heroes on the Boston Red Sox chomping away on bubble gum? I guess it could be worse, they could be asking for chewing tobacco.
Is there plastic in chewing gum?
Yup. If the gum label lists “gum base” as one of their ingredients there’s a chance your gum contains “petroleum, lanolin, glycerin, polyethylene, polyvinyl acetate, petroleum wax, stearic acid, or latex” according to the Vegetarian Resource Group. An article in The Ecologist stated that “Today the ubiquitous ingredient ‘gum base’ is label shorthand for an alphabet soup of potentially toxic ingredients.”
My friend Beth from My Plastic Free Life wrote a fantastic piece about plastic in gum. She revealed that polyvinyl acetate (a type of plastic possibly found in gum) is manufactured using vinyl acetate, a chemical shown to cause tumors in lab rats. The catch-all phrase “gum base” makes it difficult for consumers to know which gum actually contains polyvinyl acetate since the specific ingredients that make up “gum base” don’t need to be spelled out.
Gum candy coating possibly linked to cancer
I first read about the potential health issues with candy coated gum on The Lunch Tray. Gum manufacturers are using titanium dioxide to make the hard candy coating found on some chewing gum and other candies. The gum I’m talking about is generally the square chiclet shaped gum with the white candy coating. According to a recent study, children were more likely exposed to titanium dioxide and it was found to be “possibly carcinogenic”. Titanium dioxide has also been linked to Crohn’s disease and asthma. It’s important to note that there have been no conclusive links between titanium dioxide and these health risks-but the question still lingers: should we continue chewing gum if there’s a potential risk?
If you’re going to chew gum:
- Read the ingredients and make an educated decision.
- Opt for the sticks of gum over the Chiclet style pieces with hard candy coating.
- Be aware that gum is laden with other possible toxins, including artificial sweeteners.
How to Remove chewing gum from the dryer and clothes
If your gum makes its way into the dryer or onto your clothing-Anna from Green Talk has a few great tips for getting the gum out (some are green and some not so green-but they work!).
What do you think: Should we continue chewing gum if there are potential health risks?