A million plastic bottles a minute

Discussion in 'Present & Current Events' started by nivek, Oct 20, 2017.

  1. nivek

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    How to Eat Less Plastic - Consumer Reports

    Your food and water are contaminated with plastic. Here's why it's in the food system and how it could affect your health.

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    For anyone living in the U.S. in 2019, plastic is nearly impossible to avoid: It lines soup cans, leaches out of storage containers, hides in household dust, and is found inside of toys, electronics, shampoo, cosmetics, and countless other products. It's used to make thousands of single-use items, from grocery bags to forks to candy wrappers.

    But what many people don't know is that we're doing more than just using plastic. We're ingesting it, too. When you eat a bite of food or even have a sip of water, you're almost certainly taking in tiny plastic particles along with it. These ubiquitous fragments are known as microplastics.

    Because research into microplastics is so new, there’s not yet enough data to say exactly how they’re affecting human health, says Jodi Flaws, Ph.D., a professor of comparative biosciences and associate director of the Interdisciplinary Environmental Toxicology Program at the University of Illinois.

    But “there cannot be no effect,” says Pete Myers, Ph.D., founder and chief scientist of the nonprofit Environmental Health Sciences and an adjunct professor of chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University. It's likely that ingesting microplastics could further expose us to chemicals found in some plastics that are known to be harmful.

    These chemicals have been linked to a variety of health problems, including reproductive harm and obesity, plus issues like organ problems and developmental delays in children.

    Here's what you need to know about the tiny bits of plastic in our food and water—and what you can do to try to avoid at least some of them.

    Why Is Plastic in Food and Water?
    Humans have produced more than 8 billion tons of plastic, mostly since the 1950s. Less than 10 percent of it has been recycled.

    Over time, much of it has broken down into tiny particles that make their way into lakes, rivers, and oceans, eventually contaminating our food and water. And much of our food comes wrapped in plastic, which leads to tiny particles breaking off into our meals.

    There is so much plastic all around that we even breathe in tens of thousands of tiny plastic fragments or fibers every year.

    How Much Plastic Do People Ingest?
    One research review published in June calculated that just by eating, drinking, and breathing, the average American ingests at least 74,000 microplastic particles every year. (Microplastic particles are defined as 5 millimeters at their largest; most of the ones we ingest are far smaller.) And that analysis looked at only 15 percent of the foods in an average diet, meaning the amount of plastic we consume through food could actually be far greater.

    Another recent study commissioned by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF, formerly known as the World Wildlife Fund) and conducted by researchers at the University of Newcastle in Australia estimated that the average person consumes about 5 grams of plastic a week—roughly the equivalent of a credit card. (That work is still under review.)

    How Does Plastic Affect Your Health?
    There is evidence, at least in animals, that microplastics can cross the hardy membrane protecting the brain from many foreign bodies that get into the bloodstream. And there’s some evidence that mothers may be able to pass microplastics through the placenta to a developing fetus, according to research that has not yet been published but was presented at a spring conference at the Rutgers Center for Urban Environmental Sustainability.

    According to Myers, some of these microplastic particles could potentially also leach bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates. Flaws says the particles can accumulate PCBs, other chemicals that are linked to harmful health effects, including various cancers, a weakened immune system, reproductive problems, and more.

    And once these chemicals are inside of us, even low doses have an effect.

    Bisphenols are known to interfere with hormones, Flaws says. There are studies linking bisphenol exposure to reduced fertility in men and women, she says. Phthalates are also known to disrupt hormones, and prenatal exposure to phthalates is linked to lower testosterone in male offspring, she says. Styrene, another chemical found in plastic and some food packaging, has been linked to a number of health issues, including nervous system problems, hearing loss, and cancer.

    In 2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a report saying that chemicals, including bisphenols and phthalates, may put children’s health at risk, and a statement recommending that families reduce exposure to these chemicals. More research is needed to determine at what levels exposure becomes particularly dangerous, but experts recommend a precautionary approach.

    Though children are a particularly high-risk population, adults also face risks from being exposed to these chemicals, says Flaws, who is also a spokesperson for the Endocrine Society, an organization focused on hormone research and disorders.

    "Plastic products were never designed to end up in our oceans," the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) said in a statement to Consumer Reports. It added that research has not shown "significant human health impacts" from microplastics, but this is something PLASTICS and experts we spoke with agreed requires further study.

    The American Chemistry Council, another industry group, said in a statement to Consumer Reports that plastics used for food packaging must meet strict Food and Drug Administration safety standards.

    “To help evaluate the safety of our food, FDA reviews safety information on food packaging materials, including whether tiny amounts of substances could potentially migrate from a package into its contents. Through rigorous analysis, the health experts at the FDA have determined these products to be safe for their intended use.”

    But not everyone agrees that there's sufficient oversight. Companies can designate substances that come into contact with food as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) without providing peer-reviewed safety evidence to the FDA, a policy Consumer Reports has previously flagged as something that can put consumers at risk. The 2018 AAP report criticized the long list of chemicals that come into contact with food, citing evidence that indicates they may contribute to death and disease. That report and Myers say these chemicals should be more strictly regulated.

    6 Tips to Reduce Your Exposure to Plastic
    You can’t totally avoid microplastics and concerning chemicals found in plastic because they’re found everywhere, even in household dust. The broadest step would be to try to avoid foods and drinks that are packaged in plastic, though that’s almost impossible to do, says Sherri Mason, Ph.D., sustainability coordinator at Penn State Behrend and a chemist who has studied the presence of plastic in tap water, beer, sea salt, and bottled water.

    But these small steps can help you avoid at least unnecessary extra exposure to plastics and concerning chemicals:

    Drink water from your tap. Drinking water is one of the biggest contributors to microplastic ingestion, but bottled water has about double the microplastic level of tap water, according to Mason, making it a poor choice for those who want to consume less plastic. Some bottled waters have also been found to have high levels of PFAS chemicals. Mason says that unless you know your tap water is unsafe, you should opt for that over anything in a plastic bottle.

    Don't heat food in plastic. When you’re warming up food, do it in a pan (in the oven or on the stove) or in a glass container (in the microwave), says Flaws, because heated plastics have been known to leach chemicals into food. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends not putting plastic into your dishwasher.

    Avoid plastic food containers with known issues. The AAP report noted that recycling codes “3,” “6,” and “7” respectively indicate the presence of phthalates, styrene, and bisphenols—so you may want to avoid using containers that have those numbers in the recycling symbol on the bottom. The report adds that if these products are labeled as "biobased" or "greenware," they do not contain bisphenols.

    Eat more fresh food. Though the levels of microplastics in fresh produce have been largely untested, these products are less likely to expose you to concerning chemicals, according to the AAP, especially when compared with anything wrapped in plastic. Many food cans are also lined with bisphenols, meaning concerning chemicals can be found there, too.

    Minimize household dust. Household dust can expose people to chemicals, including phthalates, PFAS, and flame retardants, according to Flaws. Vacuuming regularly can help reduce household dust exposure, according to the Silent Spring Institute, and it’s possible that air purifiers may help as well (that still needs to be studied, but they do seem to help reduce indoor air pollution).

    Think big picture. Individuals can take actions to limit their plastic exposure, according to Myers, but large-scale solutions will require reducing the amount of plastic used overall. Almost no plastic is actually recycled or recyclable, with most of it being too contaminated or too low quality, former EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck, now a senior fellow at the Bennington College Center for the Advancement of Public Action, explained at a recent conference on plastic pollution. That’s especially true for much of the single-use plastic packaging that so much food comes in.

    And plastic production is expected to more than quadruple between 2015 and 2050, which means the amount of plastic contamination in the environment will rise along with it. The experts we spoke with say that to limit personal exposure to these substances in the long run, consumers should opt for products packaged in glass instead of plastic, use reusable non-plastic containers whenever possible, and support policies limiting the use of single-use plastic.

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  2. nivek

    nivek As Above So Below

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  4. Dejan Corovic

    Dejan Corovic Celestial

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    I love nature and outdoors, specially long walks through meddows and woods. I strongly feel that we don't have right to ruin nature for other animals and plants. We can pollute cities as much as we like, but oceans, mountains and deserts, that we share with other wildlife, should always be kept in a pristine condition.
     
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  5. cobalt

    cobalt Honorable

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    Oh man. Yeah. I learned about oil and plastic and pollution when I was just a youngster in Montessori school... I recycle and I want to get my very own compost too.
     
  6. nivek

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  7. nivek

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    Microplastic particles found in human organs by US scientists

    Researchers find pollutants in all samples of lungs, liver, spleen and kidneys examined

    Microplastic and nanoplastic particles have been discovered in human organs for the first time. The researchers found the tiny plastic pieces in all 47 samples of lungs, liver, spleen and kidneys they examined.

    Microplastic pollution has affected the entire planet, from
    Arctic snow and Alpine soils to the deepest oceans. The particles can harbour toxic chemicals and harmful microbes and are known to harm some marine creatures. People are also known to consume them via food and water, and to breathe them, But the potential impact on human health is not yet known.

    The scientists obtained the organ samples from a tissue bank established to study neurodegenerative diseases. The analytical method they developed allowed them to identify dozens of types of plastic, including the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) used in plastic drinks bottles and the polyethylene used in plastic bags.

    They also found the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in all 47 samples. The US Environmental Protection Agency is concerned about BPA because “it is a reproductive, developmental and systemic toxicant in animal studies”. The researchers examined lung, liver, spleen and kidney tissue as these organs are likely to be exposed to microplastics or collect them. Their results are being presented at a meeting of American Chemical Society on Monday, and have not yet been through the peer review process.

    (More on the link)

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  8. Standingstones

    Standingstones Celestial

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    By many accounts the Lake District in the U.K. is a beautiful area. Under the Covid rules there is no camping allowed at the moment. That hasn’t stopped campers and vacationers from fouling the area surrounding the lakes.


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  9. nivek

    nivek As Above So Below

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  10. nivek

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  11. nivek

    nivek As Above So Below

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    When I drive into town more and more I'm seeing discarded masks wrapped in bushes and tree islands in parking lots and with that there's Styrofoam food containers with plastic spoons and forks lying beside...I don't know why the shops and the city aren't cleaning this stuff up, it's disgraceful for people to dump their trash anywhere and disgraceful for leaving it lay there...

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  12. nivek

    nivek As Above So Below

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  13. nivek

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  14. nivek

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    Babies now have extra plastic!

    Microplastics have already been found before in oceans, soil, fish and mammals, and even ontop of the Alps.

    Now, for the first time ever, researchers have found microplastics in the placenta of healthy moms, showing just how pervasive these tiny particles can be, not just in our environment, but also within our bodies.

    Of great concern

    All six women who participated were healthy, and their pregnancies were uneventful. In the four placentas, researchers found 12 particles of plastic. Four were found in the side that interacts with the mother, five were found in the foetal side, and three were found in the chorioamniotice membranes that surround the fetus itself.

    It is unknown how these particles ended up in the placenta. Researchers speculate they made their way through the parents’ respiratory system or gastrointestinal tract.

    It’s still unclear what implications microplastics have on human health. Further studies are needed to assess if the presence of [microplastics] in human placenta may trigger immune responses or may lead to the release of toxic contaminants.

    Due to the crucial role of placenta in supporting the foetus development and in acting as an interface between the latter and the external environment, the presence of exogenous and potentially harmful (plastic) microparticles is a matter of great concern.

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  15. nivek

    nivek As Above So Below

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    Plastics recycling is 90 percent garbage, John Oliver says, but that's not your fault and there is a fix

    "Plastic really is ubiquitous," but "for almost as long as plastics have been around, there's been the question of what to do with them after they're used," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. This is an urgent, growing question, too. "Half of all plastics ever made have been produced since 2005," he said, and "a lot less plastic winds up getting recycled than you might think" — less than 9 percent in the U.S.

    "The fact is, a huge amount of the plastic surrounding us isn't recycled because it's not really recyclable, and that means that it ends up in landfills, or burned, or in the ocean, where it breaks down into microplastics, gets eaten by fish, and can end up inside us," Oliver said. "A recent study even estimated that an average person globally could be ingesting about a credit card's worth of plastic into their system every week. Which kind of explains Capital One's new slogan: 'What's in your stomach?'"


    Oliver ran through the history of platics and plastics waste, but he focused on "how the plastics industry has managed to convince us all that it's our fault." Even the recyling movement is "often bankrolled by companies that wanted to drill home the message that it is your responsibility to deal with the environmental impact of their products," he said. "And honestly, it wasn't all that difficult for them to convince us that all their waste is recyclable, because we so badly want to believe it." The recycling industry calls this "wishcycling."

    This is a complicated problem, exacerbated by China's 2018 decision to stop taking most of the world's platic recycling waste, Oliver said. "On a personal level, I know this can feel demoralizing, because it can seem that recycling is pointless. But it's important to know that it's not. We should absolutely keep recycling paper, cardboard, and aluminum — and even recycling plastic, while it may be 90 percent more pointless than you assumed, can still have modest environmental benefits," if you recycle only the kinds your local municipality accepts. But "our personal behavior is not the main culprit here, despite what the plastics industry has spent decades and millions of dollars trying to convince us," he said. "The real 'behavior change' has to come from plastics manufacturers themselves." There is a lot of NSFW language before Oliver gets to his proposed solution. Watch below.

     
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  16. August

    August Metanoia

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    Most of our recycled plastics and glass we put out in our recycling bins is taken to the garbage dump.

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  17. nivek

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    Karnataka: 10kg plastic bag retrieved from fish in Attavar

    A plastic bag with material resembling paper wrapped inside and weighing about 10kg was retrieved from a reef cod fish at a shop in Attavar here early this week. An employee cleaning the fish stumbled upon the plastic deposit on Monday. Shocked, the storeowner decided to make a video and shared it on online platforms to spread awareness on the hazards of unchecked dumping of garbage into the sea.

    "We are noticing this for the first time. If people continue to dump plastic into the sea at this rate, then fish breeding will be severely affected," said the shop owner who did not want to be identified.

    Dr A Senthil Vel, professor and dean (fisheries), College of Fisheries, said fish do not eat plastic.

    "Fish are selective in what they eat. But the challenge is that the bottom of the coast is flooded with plastic and fishermen say 40%-50% of what trawlers pick is plastic. In this case, the fish caught by a trawler may have eaten plastic on the sea floor. Fish normally consume microplastic that toxifies their body. Most plastic waste flows into the sea through rivers and drains, and the administration should build a cost-effective grid that prevents the flow of waste from joining the sea," he said.


    Nagaraj Raghav Anchan, coordinator, ocean plastic recycling, Hasiru Dala, said, "We can`t ask fish not to eat plastic, but we can stop dumping waste."

    Hasiru Dala and Anti-Pollution Drive Foundation, with support from other organisations with similar ecological concern, have lifted 32 tonnes of waste dumped by the public near Netravati bridge in the past three Sundays. Of this, at least 15-20 tonnes are dry waste and, mostly, plastic.

    "Up to 50-75 tonnes of waste is still needed to be lifted. Despite conducting the drive, it is unfortunate poultry waste was dumped recently. The administration assured us that CCTV cameras will be installed at the spot," he added.

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  18. nivek

    nivek As Above So Below

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    The new plague of plastic rain: It's the latest terrifying evidence of the damage unchecked pollution is doing to the planet - how microplastics are literally pouring from the sky

    What could be more natural than the rain? Only farmers, drought-hit gardeners, and losing cricket teams truly welcome it, but we all know, even when soaked, that it is vital to life on Earth.

    So it was a shock to learn late last week that the soft, refreshing rain we praise in the hymn We Plough The Fields And Scatter is now partly made of plastic. It’s just the latest way in which our heedless pollution of the planet is coming back to bite us.

    Trillions of tiny particles of the material, called microplastics, now contaminate every crevice of the Earth, from the highest mountains to the deepest marine trenches.

    They are increasingly being found in birds, insect, mammals and sealife, in the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe. And they end up in us, too: they have even recently been found in human placentas.

    Last week’s alarm was sounded by Craig Bennett, chief executive of Britain’s Wildlife Trusts, who called the increasing use of single-use plastics — which the Daily Mail has long campaigned against — a ‘huge, huge concern’. He cited a recent U.S. study which showed that more than 98 per cent of the rain and air samples collected over 14 months in 11 of the most remote parts of the country were polluted with microplastics.

    Published in the journal Science, it revealed that every year more than 1,000 tonnes of the particles — the equivalent of over 120 million plastic bottles — fall on them.

    Yet these areas make up just six per cent of the total national territory. Spread that around the rest of the U.S. — and the world — and the scale of the problem is, indeed, mind-blowing.

    The rain is effectively picking up from the atmosphere an invisible cloud of microplastic particles that throngs the air all around the planet.

    The tiny particles, too small to be seen with the naked eye, are collected by the wind as a toxic dust from the ground. They are so light that they stay aloft, to be blown often hundreds, even thousands, of miles around the globe.

    Still more of them are released along with spray from the sea, and are blown back to land. And as they climb into the atmosphere, they are thought to act as nuclei around which water vapour condenses to form clouds.

    Some of the dust falls back to land in dry conditions, but the rest comes down as truly hard rain.


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  19. AD1184

    AD1184 Noble

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    Apparently car tyres are produced these days with plastic in them. A large source of microplastic pollution is in dust from tyre wear.
     
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  20. nivek

    nivek As Above So Below

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    Thanks, I didn't know about that, I looked it up and did a little reading, seems for many years now they have been adding synthetic polymers with the rubber which would wear down and wear off and into the ground or the atmosphere...

    No wonder tires don't last as long as they used to, plastic wears down faster than rubber...Rubber has more flexibility than plastic but plastic is overly cheaper than rubber too...

    Plastic tires, plastic clothes, plastic to contain our food and water, even plastic in our tooth paste...x...3

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