One of the most consequential environmental challenges we are dealing with is the use of plastic. Despite being the most common material on the planet, single-use plastic and its effects on human health are still poorly understood. However, as existing plastic items fragment into smaller particles and concentrate toxic chemicals, exposure to plastic is growing and expanding in the areas of the environment and food chain. This exposure will only increase with increased plastic production.
Do you know how much plastic waste we produce each year?
Every year, nearly 300 million tonnes of plastic waste are produced globally. India alone generates approximately 3.5 million tonnes of plastic waste annually, with per capita plastic waste generation nearly doubling in the last five years. Although they are very helpful in our daily lives, plastic bags significantly contribute to environmental degradation, species extinction, risks to human health, and other detrimental consequences.
Do you know how hazardous plastic is to human health?
According to experts, plastics contain polymers and chemical toxins such as lead, cadmium, mercury, and carcinogens, and prolonged contact with these substances can have serious consequences. The fumes produced when plastics are burned cause respiratory problems and difficulty breathing. According to experts, plastics contain polymers and chemical toxins such as lead, cadmium, mercury, and carcinogens, and prolonged contact with these substances can have serious health consequences.
Here are 5 health hazards of single-use plastic in the longer run:
Your daily exposure to plastic items is likely to vary depending on region and work. Containers for food and beverages, some carry bags, and bottles are all plastic and contain chemicals. According to research, all plastics release chemicals if heated or scraped. Research has also shown a significant possibility that some of the compounds in these items contain bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is typically found in Polycarbonate plastics, inexpensive plastic components, single-use containers and water bottles that may cause human cancer at specific exposure levels.
Many stiff plastic goods, food and beverage, can linings, dental sealants, and the glossy side of paper cashier receipts contain BPA, a weak synthetic estrogen. It is a hormone disruptor like many other compounds in plastics due to its estrogen-like activity. By inhibiting or imitating estrogen and other hormones, hormone disruptors can alter how they behave in the body, disturbing the hormonal balance. Many women decide to limit their exposure to these substances that have the potential to act like estrogen because estrogen has been linked to the development and growth of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer.
Plastic production, use, and disposal release multiple compounds further into the environment and risk exposing us to toxins such as bisphenols and phthalates, which can harm our health. Plastics that degrade into microplastic particles absorb and leach chemicals. Fish and clams can consume these particles, moving to the top of the food chain for human beings. When a pregnant woman consumes, drinks, inhales or absorbs these toxins through her skin, it may be exposed in the womb. Even at low concentrations, these chemicals can disrupt the developing fetus and its systems, such as the nervous and cardiovascular systems.
Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, also known as DEHP, is a chemical added to many plastics to make them more flexible. Exposure to DEHP has been associated with an increased risk of health issues, especially reproductive abnormalities such as birth defects and autism. EDCs are present in a lot of everyday products, including plastic bags, toys, and packaging. This term refers to a variety of chemicals. One type is PBDEs, which are typically found in flame-retardant plastic. Bisphenol A is used in polycarbonate plastic for hard recyclable bottles and food containers. Phthalates are used in disposable water bottles. These chemicals cause autism and ADHD, and they also influence intelligence.
When our bodies detect foreign particles, our immune system reacts immediately. For example, once immune cells come into contact with harmful bacteria, they are engulfed and eventually destroyed. Now the question is whether our immune system is prepared to deal with plastic pollution because plastics are not biodegradable, unlike bacteria.
Microplastic particles inhaled can be absorbed into lung tissue. As a result, important immune system cells known as dendritic cells will engulf the microplastic. Dendritic cells have the properties to degrade bacteria but not the tools to degrade plastic particles. But they try, fail, and try again. This is the process that results in significant inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a major cause of diseases like impaired immunity, heart diseases, and asthma.
To assess the impact of endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs) such as bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, bisphenols (BPA, BPS, BPF), and dibutyl phthalate (DBP) on human health, the adverse health effects of plastics recommend. Plastics contain these dangerous chemicals which endanger human health. The report describes numerous pieces of evidence supporting direct cause-and-effect links between toxic chemical addition to plastics and specific endocrine system health effects.
Exposure to these compounds may lead to disease of the testis, prostate, kidney, and immune system abnormalities, tumors, uterine bleeding during pregnancy, and polycystic ovary. By modulating DNA methylation and epimutations in reproductive cells, these additives also regulate the mechanisms of epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of adult-onset diseases.
Single-use plastics are used once or for a limited time before being discarded. This plastic waste's environmental and health consequences are global and can be severe. Single-use plastics are also more likely to go down in our oceans than reusable alternatives. We all know that plastic cannot be completely destroyed. If we burn it, it will produce a lot of air pollution, which is highly detrimental to both health and the environment. Rather than burning or throwing away waste plastic, try plastic waste management in various ways.
Considering the potential health hazards of plastic, it is advisable to secure yourself and your loved ones with a Health Insurance Plan for Family by Care Health Insurance that safeguards with one premium and a common sum insured.
Disclaimer - The above information is for reference purposes only: Policy Assurance and Claims at the underwriter's discretion.
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