Impacts on Our Health
Plastic is now an intricate part of our food chain, and it’s causing a plethora of health complications for human beings. Here are some facts you should know about plastic and your health.
Most plastics in the ocean slowly break up into particles, known as microplastics. Fish and marine animals consume these microplastics, causing toxic chemicals to accumulate and move up the food chain to humans. By ingesting fish, we’re increasing our chances of health complications in the future.
- Fish comprises more than 60 percent of protein intake for rural Cambodians. Concerningly, microfibers and other plastic microparticles have been found in human tissues. Extended exposure to plastics has been linked to cancer, birth defects, impaired immunity, inflammatory bowel disease, endocrine disruption, and a number of other ailments.
- Burning plastics releases harmful chemicals, such as dioxins and furans, into the atmosphere. Breathing in these toxic chemicals exacerbates respiratory illnesses.
- Cross-sector exposure to plastic materials has detrimental impacts on human health. The exraction and transportation, refining and manufacturing, consumer use, and waste management of plastic impedes our health in a wide variety of ways. For example, humans that are exposed to toxic emissions from the plastics manufacturing process (through inhalation, ingestion, and skin contact) are susceptible to neurotoxicity, cancers, reproductive toxicity, and eye and skin irritation. Exposure has also been linked to low birth weights.
Impacts on Our Economy
Plastic waste exacerbates the damaging impacts of floods, as it blocks waterways and clogs sewage and drainage systems. Solving this problem requires government intervention and regulation, but clean-up costs are substantial. Here are some things you should know about plastic and how it affects the economy.
In 2002, Bangladesh became the first country in the world to ban plastic bags after they blocked the drainage system and caused a devastating flood. Repairing the drainage system and cleaning up after the flood was costly and time consuming.
Single-use plastics are difficult to recycle because costs are high, and resources required are extensive.
Ocean clean-ups and marine ecosystem revitalization projects are expensive and require direct intervention from government. The projected loss of polluted marine ecosystems is up to $2.5 trillion.
Plastic waste is believed to cost up to $33,000 per tonne in reduced environmental value.