Will Banning Single-use Plastics Impact Our Health?

Environmental News from India:

What are the various health hazards associated with single-use plastic, and what are the sources from which it enters the human body?

It is challenging to recycle single-use plastic; hence, it has spread in the earth’s ecosystem and affected the human food chain. Exposure to microplastics impacts the human food chain and may damage human health in various ways.

We consume, inhale, and ingest microplastics daily. Once inside the body, these tiny plastic particles may harm organs and be linked to significant health issues, including hormone-related malignancies, infertility, and neuro-developmental disorders such as ADHD and autism.

Plastics degrade into microplastics after entering various ecosystems. These microplastics act as a platform for the growth of pathogenic micro-organisms. Exposure to such contaminated microplastics could add to the associated disease burden and sometimes may even cause death. Scientists have connected relatively low amounts of Bisphenol A (BPA) exposure to various health issues, including cancer, decreased immunological function, early onset of puberty, obesity, diabetes, and hyperactivity. Few studies have related asthma, developmental, and reproductive consequences to endocrine dysregulation. Regular incineration of medical waste containing PVC and phthalates raises public health issues due to the release of dioxins and mercury. Long-term exposure can lead to cancer, congenital impairments, hormonal abnormalities, decreased sperm counts, infertility, endometriosis, and immune damage.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), which compiles the most recent information on microplastics in drinking water, microplastic particles bigger than 150 micrometers are unlikely to be absorbed by the human body, and absorption of smaller particles is anticipated to be restricted. However, the absorption and distribution of microscopic plastic particles in the nano-size range may be more significant, despite the exceedingly little evidence available. Therefore, it is emphasized that additional research is necessary to establish a more precise estimate of exposure to microplastics and their possible health effects on humans. These include the development of standard methods for measuring microplastic particles in water, more research on the origins and occurrence of microplastics in freshwater, and the evaluation of the effectiveness of various treatment processes.

How will the ban help our environment and health?

It is estimated that almost 15 percent of our plastic is burnt. The burning of plastics emits hazardous chemicals such as dioxins, furans, mercury, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the atmosphere, endangering the health of humans, animals, and even plants.

We are irresponsibly destroying the environment for profits. Burning plastic contributes significantly to air pollution and even residents close to and employees of dumpsites are at a greater risk of getting respiratory ailments and cancer. It makes no sense to produce items such as plastic whose value is assessed in minutes and endures eternally without depreciating

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Source: The Indian Express

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