Like I did with my Air Cleansing Course, I’m offering you guys a complete chapter of my new Kindle book I’ll be releasing very soon: Drowning in Plastic. This chapter answers the question of why is plastic bad for your health.
This is a tricky one because we don’t know the effects of plastics on human health. But what I want to be clear on is I’m talking about microplastics: 100 μm – 5 mm. I’m not talking about chowing down on a plastic bottle. Rather, how these small plastic fibres enter our waters, affecting our entire food web and end up on our dinner plates.
But the truth is we know hardly anything about the health effects of plastic pollution. Many scientists have a fair argument that most plastic ingested by plankton up to fish accumulate in the gut. But we don’t eat the gut; we eat the muscle of the fish.
Another argument put forward by different scientists is the unfortunate harmonious relationship with microplastics and organic pollutants like DDT and PCB. The once widely used insecticide and organic chlorine compounds, respectively. The latter was used in carbonless copy paper and electrical items until being banned in the U.S. in 1979. But just like DDT (banned in 1972), they linger in the environment because they are hydrophobic (resist mixing with water).
A harmonious, yet toxic relationship
Well, since the rise of plastic consumption and pollution, scientists have found the organic pollutants are affixing to the surface of microplastics. The natural biodegradation process is slowed and harmful compounds bind to the minute plastics entering the food chain. So the infographic you see below on the health effects is based on the health effects of DDT and PCB. Some scientists argue against this, but I think we’ll have a definitive answer in the next 5-10 years. We certainly need to keep an eye on it.
Of the 114 marine species studied that scientists have confirmed contain microplastics, half of them end up on our dinner plates. The process of biomagnification is where the toxins increase in concentration as you move up the food chain. In the environment, the pollutants are more widely dispersed, and become more concentrated in the gut as animals consume plants and each other.
Check out the infographics on health effects of microplastics with DDT affixed to the surface, the effects of microplastics on marine life and a plastic pollution map.
Do you want to see another infographic for why is plastic bad for your health? Check out the plastic pollution map below.