Different types of plastics are used as containers for pharmaceuticals e.g. intravenous infusions and for food e.g. beverages. Plastic containers are now extensively used in Sudan. In addition to pharmaceuticals , they are used to keep household products, drinking water, food etc. Different types of toxic materials are known to leach out of different types of plastics. In the present study analysis of deionized water kept in different types of plastic containers at different storage conditions was conducted. The major observation was that water stored in all types of plastics used (PET drugs & water bottles, PVC, PP and PE) at all conditions (freezer, stability chamber, refrigerator, room temperature and sun light) was found to exhibit U V absorption. This is a clear indication that some U V absorbing materials leached out. Sun light seems to affect the process of leaching since storage under direct sun light resulted in water turning acidic or with oxidisable substances or with ammonium, depending on the type of plastic used. It is recommended that materials stored in plastic containers especially PVC should be stored away from sun light.
Higher than normal lead content was detected in water stored in all plastic containers (except drug bottles) kept in the refrigerator. Water stored in PE showed a higher concentration of lead (90µg/L) when stored in the refrigerator and even a higher concentration (190µg/L) when stored under direct sun light. Utmost care should be taken in choosing containers to store water and food, since lead is known to be toxic.
Result of analysis of the plastic containers revealed that all types tested (except PP infusion bottles) could not be sterilized. They showed physical changes upon sterilization. Sterilization by heat resulted in deviations from specifications in some tests e.g. reducing substances in PET drug bottles.
The present study clearly shows that care should be taken in selection of plastic type and storage condition, if plastic containers are to be used for pharmaceuticals or food. We should avoid using certain types of plastics, particularly PE as a container for food or water.