Look around you. Look at your home, your office, your street, and try to count plastic articles. It’s everywhere. Most of us can’t last a day without using something Plastic. Without knowing the harmful effects of plastic on human health, It has become a significant part of modern daily living. You wake up and brush your teeth with a plastic toothbrush, walk to the office/college with your plastic water bottle, and eat your lunch out of a plastic lunch box.
Day by day, people are becoming more and more dependent on the use of plastics because of the characteristics of Plastic such as inert, durability, flexibility and versatility, and so on.
Do you know Plastic takes between 10 to 1000 years to decompose?
Plastics contain many chemical and hazardous substances such as Bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates, brominated flame retardants, and polyfluorinated chemicals, etc. It’s obvious that there are a lot of Harmful effects of plastic on human health.
How Does Plastic Enter Our Systems?
People are exposed to plastics and their additives every day in a variety of ways. Plastic additives enter the human body and cause significant damage to it, through inhalation and ingestion. Toxic chemicals leach out of plastic and are found in the blood and tissue of nearly all of us.
Plastic migrates easily into the human body while breathing, burning plastic trash, opening a new plastic item with a strong odor, drinking hot coffee from a styrofoam cup, reusing a water bottle, eating food microwaved in a plastic container, or that has been frozen in a plastic container, or even food that has simply been stored for a while.any of these common practices allow chemicals from Plastic to migrate easily into the body.
What is certain is that many of the chemicals that are routinely used to make Plastic are dangerous.
Bisphenol A (BPA)
Bisphenol A (BPA) has been used in the plastics industry for over 40 years. It is used in many things, including plastic bottles and food packaging materials. Studies show that BPA can seep into food and beverages from containers that are made with BPA.
It has been associated with several common health problems such as,
- rapid puberty,
- rapid changes in the immune system,
- wheezing and asthma
- type-2 diabetes,
- cardiovascular disorders including coronary artery heart disease, angina, heart attack, hypertension, and peripheral artery disease,
- obesity, etc.
Some studies have also claimed that BPA increases the risk of breast cancer, pains, endometrial hyperplasia, recurrent miscarriages, and sterility in women.
High-level exposure may increase the risk of erectile dysfunction and problems with sexual desire and ejaculation in men.
Environmental exposure to BPA has the potential to affect the developing brain of the fetal in pregnant mothers.
BPA could interfere with the effectiveness of chemotherapy in breast cancer treatment.
Phthalates sometimes referred to as plasticizers, are often used to make vinyl plastics soft and flexible. They are widely used in baby toys, food processing equipment and materials, medical devices, and vinyl building products, in addition to other items.
BPA is not the only endocrine-disrupting chemical found to leach from plastics. Both BPA and phthalates can enter the newborn’s body through pregnancy, and through fetal and breastfeeding, they will be able to harm them.
Phthalate exposures in humans have been linked to changes in sex hormone levels, altered development of genitals, and low sperm count and quality. Phthalates have also been linked with obesity, reduced female fertility, preterm birth and low birth weight, a worsening of allergy and asthma symptoms, and altered toddler behavior.
Effect of plastic pollution in the ocean on our health
Over a few decades, humans have managed to dump tons upon tons of plastic into the ocean. Chemicals in plastics are released into the water as well as the atmosphere. Fish easily become contaminated from the chemicals in the water. This is a direct link to how plastic chemicals enter the food chain. Direct toxicity from plastics comes from lead, cadmium, and mercury. These toxins have also been found in many fish in the ocean, which is very dangerous for humans.
Effects of plastic burning on our health
When Plastic is burned, it releases dangerous chemicals such as hydrochloric acid, sulfur dioxide, dioxins, furans, and heavy metals, as well as particulates. Burning of plastic waste increases the risk of heart disease, aggravates respiratory ailments such as asthma and emphysema, causes rashes, nausea, or headaches, and damages the nervous system. Burning Plastic also releases black carbon, which contributes to climate change and air pollution.
How to reduce plastic use in daily life
- Bring your own shopping bag.
- Stop buying bottled water.
- Use a reusable bottle or mug for your beverages.
- Stop using plastic straws and purchase a reusable stainless steel or glass straw.
- Buy in bulk
- Return reusable containers
- Try to store your food in tiffin-box or glass containers (using borosilicate glass is much safer than ordinary soda-lime glass)
- Recycle. It reduces the amount of plastic in the waste stream.
- Plastics release more chemicals when heated, so avoid heating foods in plastic containers in the microwave.
Every stage of the plastic life cycle poses significant risks to human health. Even small changes in your day to day life can add up and significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste in the environment. Be conscious of your choices, and encourage those around you to think twice before using it and throwing away Plastic. Let’s make our world a better place to live.