What plastic is and the increasing human exposure to harmful chemicals and what overall problems it may cause.
You may have heard of plastic and its impact on the environment, but do you know how it can negatively impact human health? While plastic remains one of the globe’s most pervasive materials, its effect on human health is actually poorly understood.
Exposure to this material continues to expand as already-existing plastic materials break down into smaller particles and release toxic chemicals. As our human plastic production increases, the harmful exposure to these chemicals will also increase.
Impacts on human health appear to occur at every single stage of the plastic material’s life cycle. This includes the extraction process, waste management, and even ongoing soil pollution.
What is Plastic?
Plastic is a synthetic material constructed from a variety of organic polymers like nylon, polyethylene, and PVC, amongst others. The material can be shaped while soft and then set into a slightly elastic or rigid form.
The Impact of Plastic on Your Health
To address the crisis surrounding human health and plastic, a few actions must be taken.
Firstly, a life cycle approach must be taken concerning plastic. Smaller, short-sighted approaches are inadequate.
This calls for informed, full lifecycle approaches that address the risks associated with plastic, which will ultimately help us to understand the bigger picture of the toxic effects plastic may have on human health, ensuring the prevention of more environmental problems.
Furthermore, we must account for these human health risks at every single stage of the plastic life cycle since most people around the globe are exposed to harm at several stages of the life cycle.
This includes the extraction and transport stage, in which fracking chemicals have been linked to immune system impairment, cancer, and neurological, developmental, and reproductive toxicity. These harsh chemicals have a direct impact on sensory organs, the liver, the nervous and gastrointestinal system, and most importantly, the brain.
Moving on to manufacturing, plastic can also cause harm to health in this stage. Converting fossil fuels into plastic resins releases toxic substances into our surroundings which have known impairments on the reproductive, nervous, and developmental systems, as well as prompting leukemia and cancer. This explains why industry workers may be at the greatest risk of facing these problems associated with this exposure.
In the consumer process, people ingest and inhale substantial amounts of toxic substances and microplastic particles. These are linked with developmental and carcinogenic impacts along with disruptions to the endocrine system.
In terms of waste management, technologies linked with this process often result in organic substances, toxic metals, and acid gasses being released into our air, soils, and waters. The technologies in question can lead to exposure to toxic substances, with nearby communities and workers both being at higher risk. This is through the inhalation of air, contact with water and soil, and ingestion of food grown within a substance-polluted environment.
When considering plastic in the environment, it must be considered that microplastics can contaminate our food chains via water supplies, agricultural soils, and terrestrial and aquatic food chains. This plastic can certainly leach concentrated toxins or additives already within our environment, making them available again from human exposure.
As these plastic particles start to degrade, new surface areas are then exposed, allowing the leaching of additives to continue. The entering of microplastics into the human body can cause a variety of issues, including oxidative stress, genotoxicity, and inflammation, and is linked to cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and diabetes, amongst other problems.
"Plastic is a synthetic material constructed from a variety of organic polymers like nylon, polyethylene and PVC."
So, what can you take away from this knowledge as a businessperson or a marketer? The most obvious takeaway is that using plastic may harm your business model. While it is a popular material amongst businesses, customers are starting to turn away from brands incorporating harm into their production processes.
Secondly, it, therefore, might be worth taking a more sustainable approach. Consider what materials are eco-friendly. This will make your brand more attractive to environmentally conscious buyers. Thirdly, you can expand your audience range by moving away from plastic materials. This is by presenting your business as an active character in enhancing environmental awareness.
With a strong meaning and cause backing your brand, you can give customers a reason to buy from you over the competition in increasingly crowded markets.