Plastics: Killing ourselves for convenience
Posted on February 2, 2022
Eats Shoots and Leaves
Plastics, developed only in the last century and widely used only after the end of the Second World War, have become ubiquitous in our everyday lives.
Indeed, it’s getting hard to find things that don’t contain plastic, and if they do, odds are they’re packaged in containers may with plastic.
Indeed, as I write, I do so on a plastic keyboard looking at a plastic-encased monitor, sipping coffee from a plastic-topped cup while wearing a robe made of plastic microfibers.
Do what’s wrong with this picture?
We begin with a public service announcement from the Plastic Pollution Coalition:
First, some background, via the National Academy of Science:
And while they add convenience to our fast-paced lives, plastics may also be killing us.The plastics industry began in the early 1900s when the first synthetic plastic was created in the U.S. Since the industry began, annual global plastic production has exploded from some 1.5 million metric tons in 1950 to 359 million metric tons in 2018. The cumulative production of plastic surpassed eight billion metric tons worldwide, and it is expected to further increase in the coming decades. Plastics cause pollution at almost every stage of their lifecycle, starting with the use of fossil fuels for their production.
From Norwegian SciTech News:
Hundreds, maybe thousands, of chemicals from plastics can leach into water under natural conditions. This water may contain substances that we know are toxic under laboratory conditions, says Martin Wagner, an associate professor at NTNU’s Department of Biology.
Wagner is part of a research group that has investigated how ordinary plastic products leach chemicals into the water under natural conditions.
The plastic we surround ourselves with contains up to 20 000 different chemical compounds. Many of these chemicals are toxic under laboratory conditions, but so far we have known precious little about how harmful this plastic is for us.
These chemicals wouldn’t pose a danger to us if they stayed bound to the plastic and weren’t released into the environment. But we may not be so fortunate.
All plastics leach chemicals
“We examined 24 common plastic products over ten days to see if they leached chemical substances into water under natural conditions. We then examined the water for chemicals and toxicity,” says Wagner.
All of the products leached chemicals into the water. Several of the substances have potentially toxic effects.
Oxidative stress was associated with 22 of the 24 plastic products that leached substances into the water. This can damage cells and cause inflammation and chronic disease.
Thirteen of the products leached antiandrogens, which can affect men’s fertility.
One of the plastic products leached oestrogens that can affect fertility in women and men.
Plastics leach very differently
A single plastic product could leach up to 8700 different substances into the water. However, the amount of chemicals leached into the water varied greatly for different types of plastics. One product could release anywhere from 1 to 88 per cent of the assorted chemicals it contains.
The research group was able to identify with certainty only a small proportion – about 8 per cent – of the substances that leached into the various water samples. This means we still know very little about the effects of the rest of the chemicals.
Much more leaching than suspected
“Our research shows that plastic products leach many more chemicals than we previously knew about,” says Wagner.
Humans and other animals are far more exposed to various substances from plastic than we’ve previously known.
We know that some of these chemicals are toxic under laboratory conditions. Plastics used for wrapping food and for drinks are perhaps of particular concern.
“This study shows us that humans and other animals are far more exposed to various substances from plastic than we’ve previously known or than is reflected in Norway’s current health guidelines and health policy,” says Wagner.
All but one of the products that were screened came from Germany, but there is no indication that these plastics are any different in Norway.
New studies reveal that one class of so-called forever chemicals linked to a wide range of physical ailments, are ubiquitous in our environment.Zdenka Bartosova, a staff engineer in NTNU’s Department of Biology, was also part of the research group. NTNU researchers collaborated with the Goethe-Universität and the Institute for Social-Ecological Research, both in Frankfurt am Main.
They’re called forever chemicals because they don’t degrade, remaining dangerous for decades and even centuries.
Thanks to: https://stuartbramhall.wordpress.com