Diseases caused by plastic
Plastics pose a major problem for our health and that of all ecosystems. Because we all eat plastic, humans and animals. And we have microplastics and plastic molecules in our bodies.
These are the figures for plastic generation and waste in the EU (as we can see, packaging and disposable plastics are the biggest part of the problem and what the EU is already acting on, as we will see below):
All living beings on this planet are affected in one way or another by plastics. Let’s look at what the plastics we see and those we don’t see involve, both physically and chemically.
Physically, plastics are a problem for animals, either because they get trapped in plastic waste or because they ingest them. We are referring to the plastics that we can all see: bags, the rings that hold soda cans, containers… in short, any plastic product, whole or broken. The problem of plastics has shocked us especially for its impact on the oceans, seeing images of animals trapped in plastics or that have died from having ingested them, or knowing about the Pacific garbage stain of 1.6 million square kilometers and about 79,000 tons of plastic waste … a barbarity that we can hardly conceive. Well, it is estimated that more than 94% of the plastic that reaches the sea is on the seabed, whether it is plastic or microplastics. So what we don’t see is vastly more catastrophic than what we do see.
Vinyl chloride is a colorless gas. It ignites easily and is unstable at high temperatures. It has a slightly sweet odor. It is a manufactured substance and does not occur naturally. It can be formed by the decomposition of other substances such as trichloroethane, trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene. Vinyl chloride is used to manufacture polyvinyl chloride (PVC). PVC is used to manufacture a variety of plastic products, including pipes, wire and cable coatings and packaging products. Vinyl chloride is also known as chloroethene, chloroethylene and ethylene monochloride.
Breathing high levels of vinyl chloride may cause dizziness or drowsiness. Breathing very high levels can make you faint, while breathing extremely high levels can cause death.
Some workers who have been exposed to very high levels of vinyl chloride have problems with blood flow in their hands. Fingers turn white and hurt when it is cold. The effects of drinking high levels of vinyl chloride are not known. If you pour vinyl chloride on your skin you will feel your skin become numb and red and blister.
What damage does plastic cause to the environment?
The problem is that these microscopic pieces, being so tiny, are entering the food chain without us even realizing it. This is one of the reasons why plastic pollution on land is higher than in the seas (between 4 and 23 times more). Therefore, land-based pollution is one of the most common and dangerous.
There are up to 5 islands of garbage in the oceans. Sea pollution is one of the most serious, as these accumulations of garbage not only remain in the ocean, but also reach the coasts, contaminating land areas, living beings, etc.
But the problem is not only the garbage islands or places in the sea where it is very visible that there is plastic, but it is confirmed that microplastics have been found everywhere in the ocean where they have been searched, from the deepest seabed to the Arctic ice.
Plastic air pollution is something that many of us are not aware of, but the truth is that it affects our health without us even realizing it. The manufacturing itself releases a variety of toxins into the air, but in addition to this, many of the world’s plastics are burned, releasing many other toxic components that cause health problems.
Health hazards of plastic
Microplastics are generated by the decomposition of plastic objects in the open air, tires, clothing, paints, leaking granules and powders from manufacturing and from the products such as cosmetics and abrasive cleaners of which they may be a part.
Early atmospheric measurements of microplastics indicate that plastic particles are a relevant component of fine dust, with, for example, deposition rates in central London ranging from 575 to 1008 microplastics per square meter per day. Exposure increases in indoor air, from direct ingestion of household dust or dust deposited on food and direct exposure to particles released from plastic food containers or bottles, such as polypropylene baby bottles.
Once in contact with the epithelial linings of the lung or intestine, or after being internalized, microplastics can cause physical, chemical and microbiological toxicity and can act cumulatively.