Plastic Free July, is a global initiative aimed at raising awareness of the environmental impact of plastic products and single use plastic waste. This movement enables millions of people to get involved and reduce plastic pollution in our landfills, oceans and daily lives.
Whilst this initiative has helped educate many of the environmental impact plastics have upon the land and the threat they pose to our wildlife, there is the lesser known impact these have on our bodies that may affect our health.
How Are We Exposed to These Plastics?
Plastic exposure is ubiquitous in many indoor and outdoor environments, with the most common sources of exposure to plastics being through ingestion, inhalation and even dermally, through the skin.
Our greatest exposure to these plastics is through common items including
What Health Affects May Plastic Exposure Cause?
As with many things, the ‘dose makes the poison’.
It is unlikely that exposure to plastics in small amounts for small periods of time, will cause any long- term health effects. It is at high levels of exposure over long periods of time that these chemicals accumulate and may be stored in fat and other bodily tissues, leading to health complaints in the future.
Plastics and the chemicals used in the production of plastics have been found to interfere with hormone function, and they are often referred to as endocrine disruptors, due to the nature of the interference upon the hormones.
The researched health implications and the findings of the disruptive activity of plastics and their chemicals relate to our major hormones; oestrogen, androgens and thyroid.
The adverse consequences of plastics on human health include; male and female reproductive health, thyroid dysfunction, metabolic alterations (diabetes), cardiovascular disease, obesity, compromised immune function, inflammation and hormone sensitive cancers, such as breast cancer.
What can we do to limit exposure?
As mentioned above, it is with large exposure that these may affect our health. The great news is there are many things within our control we can implement to reduce our exposure to plastics, reducing the chances of any negative health effects, thus taking control of our health.
These strategies are also great for the environment as they are reusable, reduce our plastic pollution footprint as well as reducing our ingestion of plastic chemicals and microplastics.
Simple plastic swaps
Author: Prudence, Matar Health
References for Further Reading
https://www.plasticfreejuly.org https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2873011/#!po=75.0000 https://theconversation.com/hundreds-of-fish-species-including-many-that-humans-eat-are-consuming-plastic-154634 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0048969720374039 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29959737/ https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/bdr2.1778