Can we look around with awareness? How much plastic can we see? Plastic bags, Food packets, plastic bottles, pens, even our phone cover, the list is endless. Despite its prevalence, the effects of plastic pollution on human health and environment remain mostly unknown to the majority of people. Have you ever thought about the negative effects of the plastic pollution that we are increasing day-by-day on our health and environment?
Plastic affects human health.
Society has become completely reliant on plastic, yet we hardly stop and wonder how this material might be affecting our health. Toxic additives are often added to plastic in order to improve its properties. Many of these additives do not bind to the chemical chain of plastic that means they can be released in the environment when exposed to various atmospheric conditions and hence it should not be burnt as it releases toxic substances polluting air and in turn affecting health adversely. Lot of people burn plastic along with other garbage causing toxic pollutants. The skin can absorb these additives, additives can evaporate into the air or absorbed via the food or drinks we consume. It is important to know exactly what additives are used and take steps to avoid them to reduce the harmful effects of plastic on human health as all of them are highly toxic in nature. Toxic chemicals leach out of plastic and are found in the blood and tissue of nearly all of us. Exposure to them is linked to cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, endocrine disruption and other ailments.
Plastic pollution on land poses a threat to the plants and animals. Chlorinated plastic can release harmful chemicals into the surrounding soil, which can then seep into groundwater or other surrounding water sources and the ecosystem of the world.
Plastics take hundreds of years to decompose
Plastic products — particularly single-use plastics such as bags and straws — don’t fully degrade, and remain in the environment for hundreds (or even thousands) of years. Instead of fully degrading and being naturally absorbed back into the environment , most plastics will only break down little by little, casting off small pieces of plastic into the environment, where it can be ingested by wildlife.
This process can also lead to the pollution of groundwater sources as well as rivers and streams.
Plastic threatens wildlife.
Wildlife become entangled in plastic, they eat it or mistake it for food and feed it to their young, and it is found littered in even extremely remote areas of the Earth. In our oceans alone, plastic debris outweighs zooplankton by a ratio of 36:1.
Plastic poisons our food chain, affecting our oceans
Even plankton, the tiniest creatures in our oceans, are eating microplastics and absorbing their hazardous chemicals. The tiny, broken down pieces of plastic are displacing the algae needed to sustain larger sea life who feed on them.
An alarming aspect of plastic use, and one that we’re only just becoming fully aware of, is the damage plastic is causing to our oceans. the toll that plastic is taking on global marine life is undeniable. Approximately 150 million metric tonnes of plastic are currently in the ocean, and we are producing more and more of it each year, meaning our oceans — and its inhabitant marine life — are being choked by the plastics we throw away.
Ocean-dwelling creatures are being killed by stray plastic floating in the water, as well as by plastic fragments they mistake for actual food. Plastic particles are ingested by marine life, and as we produce more single-use plastics, this problem will only become worse.
Plastic can also be found washing ashore — sometimes years after being dumped in the ocean. Its durability as a material means it’s near impossible to remove from the environment, and can have a striking impact on once clean, pristine natural beaches across the globe.
What can we do to reduce plastic consumption?
By reducing the amount of plastic we use each day, we can help to cut demand and enforce change. Recently, plastic bans have been discussed, targeting single-use plastics in commercial settings.
From a personal standpoint, you can cut down on plastic consumption by following this method, and refusing to buy or use single-use plastic such as plastic straws and disposable tea/coffee cups. Find alternative products which don’t rely on plastic packaging — around 40% of plastic usage is due to packaging — and try to educate others about plastics and how harmful overconsumption can be.
While we aren’t choking on plastic bags like marine organisms, the amount of toxic additives present in our everyday plastic, combined with our constant exposure to this material, is cause for concern. It is important to learn and be aware about the harmful effects of plastic on human health in order to effectively counter them. It’s becoming increasingly important for society to reduce its reliance on single-use plastics and seek alternative materials.
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