The contamination by plastics is becoming one of the great problems of the human population. Plastic is one of the materials we use most in the industry, especially in food. However, today we still do not know its effects well.
The plastic follows a ‘life cycle’, that is, a series of stages through which it passes throughout its existence. It consists of four phases its process:
- Material Extraction
- Manufacturing and refining
- Waste use and management
The effects of plastics contamination are currently being studied in each of these phases. It can already be said that it has a multitude of harmful effects on human health and that it is more than just a simple environmental problem.
Therefore, in this article, we explain how plastic pollution affects your health since we are all exposed to it. It is necessary to be aware to rethink a more socially responsible use of this material.
How does plastic pollution affect health?
The contamination by plastics is being studied to verify the magnitude of its effects on the organism. However, it is known that microplastics already cause damage to many other living things, such as fish.
The microplastic is particles measuring less than 5 mm in diameter. They are produced by the division of larger plastics that, as they get smaller and smaller, invade the entire environment, especially water.
This is because many of the plastic waste goes to the sea. Scientists have shown that, in more than 100 aquatic species, microplastics can be found throughout your digestive tract. That is, marine fauna is being contaminated by them.
The big problem with this is that many of these species are part of our diet. In addition, contamination by plastics is also making animals sick. For example, it is very typical to find turtles with intestinal obstruction for them.
Over time, these microplastics are very likely to be even smaller. These particles could get into our tissues and act toxic. The truth is that this is still a hypothesis, but experimental models prove their real possibility in humans.
Plastic contamination is not limited to intestinal problems due to obstructions but goes beyond. Plastics make other contaminants adhere to them, keeping them on the surface of seas and rivers.
It occurs, for example, with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. In this way, the toxicity of these substances increases, because they are able to remain longer.
The contamination by plastics and the phases of its cycle
As we have already mentioned, plastic follows a ‘life cycle’. In each of its phases, there is a probability that it affects health in some way.
First, during the extraction and transport phase, many chemical emissions occur. These substances, such as benzene, can affect our immune system. They also appear to have carcinogenic potential and toxicity in the nervous system, among other effects. The same happens during refining and manufacturing.
The phases of use and waste management are the most important. Virtually everyone is exposed to the effects of plastic and has daily contact with numerous products that contain it.
In fact, as we indicated in the previous section, not managing the waste well means that, in the end, we are ingesting the same plastic that we dispose of. Therefore, it is important to be very aware of the problem and make responsible use of them.
Plastic is present in our daily lives, and we may not be able to eliminate it completely, but we must be able to rationalize and reuse it. Socially responsible use is imposed so that we do not get sick from our own waste.
The fauna is already suffering the effects of plastic pollution, and it is possible that the human species follows the same path. It is up to us to get down to work to reverse the process.