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Human Health

Recent research into chemical additives in plastic have been linked to problems associated with human health, and this is where there is an issue with plastic particles.  Plastic is breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces and entering the food chain and releasing chemicals into the fish that eat them (Zarfl & Matthies, 2010).  These particles are ingested by fish and retained within their digestive system, slowly releasing chemicals into their bodies.  Furthermore research has shown that  the plastic surface  of these particles is absorbing chemicals from the surrounding water (Kosier, 2010).  Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are being found in concentrations on marine plastics in several orders of magnitude higher than they are free in the water (Thompson, 2010).  The same POPs have been associated with numerous detrimental health conditions:

  • Cancer (Wang et al. 2009,WWF 1999, Ociepa-Zawal et al. 2010, Purdue et al. 2009, McGlynn et al. 2008)
  • Diabetes (Ruzzin et al. 2010, Lee 2008, Carpenter 2008)
  • Low sperm count (WWF 1999)
  • Altered immune systems (WWF 1999, Hertz-Picciotto 2008)
  • Genital defects (WWF 1999)
  • Endocrine disruptors (Cao et al. 2008, Han et al. 2010, Goncharov et al. 2009, Tan et al. 2009)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (Lee et al. 2007)
  • Endometriosis (Porpora et al. 2009)
  • Low birth weights (Murphy et al., 2010)
  • Developmental problems in children:
    • Lowered IQ (Jacobson and Jacobson 1996, Park et al. 2009)
    • Lowered reading ages (Jacobson and Jacobson 1996)
    • Affected social skills (Jacobson and Jacobson 1996)
    • Behavioural problems (WWF 1999)
    • Memory and attention problems (WWF 1999, Jacobson and Jacobson)