We all know plastic has a catastrophic impact on our environment; 300 million tons of plastic is still produced each year (that’s the weight of the entire global population every year!) and there is an estimated 5 TRILLION items of plastic in our beautiful oceans.
However, our environment is not the only thing that is caused harm by incessant plastic consumption; our health is also now seeing the effects of plastic pollution. By now I’m sure you may have read articles about micro-plastics being found in food, but the whole story is even scarier.
At every part of plastic production, we are exposed to potential risks;
The extraction of raw materials to produce plastics emits over 170 toxic chemicals that, when inhaled or ingested, can affect the immune system as well as the liver and kidneys. This risk is higher for people living in areas with factories or fracking facilities.
The next stage, refining the raw materials to produce plastic emits the known carcinogens Benzene and Styrene that end up in our air, water and soil. This can have a major impact on our skin as well as cause reproductive issues.
When these plastic products are in the hands of consumers, we are exposed to micro plastics that are very easily ingested and have associated developmental issues alongside respiratory problems and a higher risk of diabetes.
Then, at the end of the plastic life cycle, the waste management and incineration of these plastics exposes us to more toxic fumes with neurological health implications.
A quote from Graham Forbes, Greenpeace Global Plastics Project Leader summarises where our society’s relationship with plastic is at:
“The health risks of the plastic pollution crisis have been ignored for far too long, and must be at the forefront of all decisions on plastics moving forward. Corporations and governments are risking our health to maintain the status quo and keep profits flowing. It’s not just our oceans and marine animals that are suffering from this addiction to plastics, it’s all of us. While there is still much to learn about all of the impacts of plastics on human health, we know enough to adopt a precautionary principle and start to phase out these throwaway plastics for good.”