The plastic problem expands with human society. It has been shown that there are numerous animal species with microplastics in their digestive tract. And the effects on human beings and their health can already be perceived incipiently.
Plastic pollution is becoming one of the great problems of the human population. Plastic is one of the materials that we use the most in the industry, especially in the food industry. However, to this day we still do not know its effects well.
Plastic follows a ‘life cycle’, that is, a series of stages through which it passes throughout its entire existence. Its process consists of four phases:
- Extraction of materials.
- Manufacturing and refining.
- Use and management of waste.
The effects of plastic pollution in each of these phases are currently being studied. It can already be said that it has a multitude of harmful effects on human health, and that it is more than just an 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?
Plastic pollution is being studied to verify the magnitude of its effects on the body. However, microplastics are already known to damage many other living things, such as fish.
The microplastic are particles measuring less than 5 mm in diameter. They are produced by the division of larger plastics that, as they become smaller and smaller, invade the entire environment, especially water.
This is because much of the plastic waste ends up in the sea. Scientists have shown that microplastics can be found throughout their digestive tract in more than 100 aquatic species. In other words, the marine fauna is being polluted by them.
The big problem with this is that many of these species are part of our diet. In addition, that plastic pollution is also making animals sick. For example, it is very typical to find turtles with intestinal obstruction from them.
Over time, these microplastics are likely to get even smaller. These particles could get into our tissues and act toxic. The truth is that this is still a hypothesis, but experimental models verify its real possibility in humans.
Plastic pollution is not limited to intestinal problems due to obstructions; it goes beyond that. Plastics make other pollutants stick 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 for a longer time.
Plastic pollution 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 transportation phase, there are many chemical releases. These substances, like benzene, can affect our immune system. They also appear to have carcinogenic potential and toxicity to the nervous system, among other effects. The same is true 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 many products that contain it.
In fact, as we indicated in the previous section, not managing waste well means that, in the end, we are ingesting the same plastic that we discard. Therefore, it is important to be very aware of the problem and make responsible use of them.
Plastic is present in our everyday lives, and we cannot possibly eliminate it completely, but we must be able to rationalize and reuse it. A socially responsible use is imposed so that we do not get sick from our own waste.
Wildlife is already suffering the effects of plastic pollution, and the human species may follow the same path. It is up to us to get down to business to reverse the process.