Concern for the environment: the addictive use of plastics by man has metamorphosed into a global act of ecocide. Across eons of being laxed and nonchalant towards the subject matter, tons of carefree plastic waste and disintegrates have found way into the world’s oceans, animals, soil, air, etc.
Taking into consideration the scale of plastic pollution on the environment and within the world’s ecosystem, one would expect that traces of the said pollutant be found within man one way or the other. This assumption has lived to expectations with recent studies suggesting that, microplastics can be found in human blood, placenta and breast milk.
In sightings by CER on the matter, Prof Dick Vethaak, an ecotoxicologist at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands is quoted to have said:
“Our study is the first indication that we have polymer particles in our blood – it’s a breakthrough result, but we have to extend the research and increase the sample sizes, the number of polymers assessed, etc. Further studies by a number of groups are already under way.
It is certainly reasonable to be concerned. The particles are there and are transported throughout the body. Previous work had shown that, microplastics were 10 times higher in the faeces of babies compared with adults and that babies fed with plastic bottles are swallowing millions of microplastic particles a day.
We also know in general that babies and young children are more vulnerable to chemical and particle exposure, that worries me a lot.” – according to https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/mar/24/microplastics-found-in-human-blood-for-first-time
Also, in a different study, Dr Valentina Notarstefano at the Università Politecnica delle Marche in Ancona Italy noted that:
“The proof of microplastics’ presence in breast milk increases our great concern for the extremely vulnerable population of infants.
It will be crucial to assess ways to reduce exposure to these contaminants during pregnancy and lactation. But it must be stressed that the advantages of breastfeeding are much greater than the disadvantages caused by the presence of polluting microplastics.
Studies like ours must not reduce breastfeeding of children, but instead raise public awareness to pressure politicians to promote laws that reduce pollution.” – according to https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/oct/07/microplastics-human-breast-milk-first-time
Moreover, the report titled Global Plastics Outlook: Policy Scenarios to 2060 of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCED) projects that, plastic waste is to almost triple by 2060, with half of all plastic waste still being landfilled and less than a fifth recycled.
If plastic production and use grow as currently planned, by 2030, emissions could reach 1.34 gigatons per year—equivalent to the emissions released by more than 295 new 500-megawatt coal-fired power plants.
By 2050, the cumulation of these greenhouse gas emissions from plastics could reach over 56 gigatons—10–13 percent of the entire remaining carbon budget.
In juxtaposition, nearly every piece of plastic begins as a fossil fuel, and greenhouse gases are emitted at each of each stage of the plastic life cycle: 1) fossil fuel extraction and transport, 2) plastic refining and manufacture, 3) managing plastic waste, and 4) its ongoing impact in our oceans, waterways, and landscape – noted by a report titled Plastic and Climate: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet.
As can be noticed, solutions to the plastic menace are closely linked to the ones proposed for addressing climate change. This is because, plastics are derived from the proliferation and use of fossil fuels. In a sustainable future, plastics have no place and should be banned progressively. Its impact on the environment and ecosystem leaves it no bargain as such hasn’t been of any good so far.
In addition to the above said however, one can also:
*Buy in bulk.
*Avoid single use plastics, they harm the environment by often not being disposed of properly.
*Employ a reusable bottle for holding water.
*Adopt the use of mushroom packaging.
*Avoid products containing microbeads by looking out for “polyethylene”, “polystyrene” and “polypropylene” on ingredient labels.
*Participate in clean-up exercises, they help rid our environment of filth and plastic waste.
*Support firms working to mitigate plastic pollution.
*Support legislation geared toward reducing plastic production and waste.
*Create awareness and spread the word on plastic use.
Although not exhaustive, these measures when adhered to will help restore the integrity of the planet’s ecosystem. Man’s activities will work in tandem with the environment / nature and not militate against it.
See reports at:
Global Plastics Outlook: Policy Scenarios to 2060:
Raman Microspectroscopy Detection and Characterisation of Microplastics in Human Breastmilk:
Environment International (Journal): https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412022001258
Plastic and Climate: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet: