One of the most used raw materials in every industry is plastic. From the machines used in manufacturing products down to the tableware we use at home, the plastic and its principal component are always included. However, the affordability and availability of plastics as a leading manufacturing material is something that is not worth celebrating.
Plastic is a composite material that is made up of various elements such as carbon, hydrogen, chlorine, sulfur, oxygen, and nitrogen. It is manufactured to mimic the properties of natural materials giving it a high molecular weight. It can be produced either by the conversion of natural products or synthesis of primary chemical which can be found on coal, oil and natural gas.
Plastics may have been a lifesaver for parties and other events because it’s affordable, lightweight and durable at the same time. Plastic reduces the manufacturing costs because it is the cheapest raw material they can use for their products. Still, it poses a significant threat not only to our environment but also to our health.
Plastic in its raw form
Take into account the nurdles or better known as the mermaid tears. Nurdles are plastic pellets mixed with conditioners and additives to achieve a certain texture and durability. It is then melted and molded into any desired plastic product. Not all of these small plastic pellets end up as a household item. Some end up in the ocean that collects toxins in the surface and become food to marine life, most specially to fishes and turtles. And it is one of the reasons why many aquatic species are endangered due to plastic indigestion.
If you’re not familiar with this material, nurdles are known as the building blocks of plastic goods that usually measures 1mm and 5mm. It is categorized as a prime microplastic, similar to microbeads that are used on cosmetic products. It is small in size for convenient transport and easy melting to remold for any desired plastic product. However, mishandling and mismanagement of this material had been the game changer on why most of it ends up in rivers and oceans via effluent pipes coming from industrial leakage.
Although plastics have different types, they are all polymers and are carbon-based. Even if plastic polymers are considered non-toxic, what makes it dangerous is the chemical residual, additives and the degradation found in products that are not bounded.
How plastics and its residual chemical, additives, and degradation affect our health
Plastics are everywhere – on packaging, household items, appliances even on clothing and jewelry. You can’t just avoid it or stop using it unless industries will start using eco-friendly products. And what makes plastic a hazard to our health is that it is loaded with chemicals, additives, and degradations such as:
Phthalates: These are softening chemicals that are added to plastic products to make them less brittle. Since its components are not bonded to the plastic polymer, it can migrate anywhere, even inside our body. When these are ingested, it disrupts the function of the endocrine system resulting in the reproductive malformation of baby boys, increased risk on allergic reactions and reduced fertility.
BPA and other substitutes: Bisphenol-A and its other alternatives is the most known plastic chemical that is highly monitored on plastic products that are evaluated by the FDA. Although a total ban for BPA use in baby bottles and sippy cups has been issued, it still can be found on other plastic products. It was discovered that Bisphenol-A is a hormone disruptor that is linked to multiple health problems.
Though some companies have ceased using BPA on their plastic products, the substitute known as the BPS, coming from the Bisphenol family, were used and was discovered to be as toxic as BPA. Its chemical components mimic the food or liquid that is stored in the plastic product that contains BPA and BPS, which make it one of the leading cause for the development of cancer, heart disease, and other health problems once it goes down the bloodstream.
Polyvinyl Chloride or PVC: Among the many chemicals that can be found in plastic products, the PVC is the most toxic of them all. From the moment it is produced, it already releases toxins such as dioxins, vinyl chloride, phthalates, lead, cadmium, ethylene chloride, etc. The fastest way it can go through our body is getting in contact with the food and drinks where it is contained. Such chemicals can be found on drinking straws, backpacks and binders, lunchboxes and many more. And since it has high chlorine and phthalate content, it poses a significant risk to the occurrence of serious illnesses like carcinoma.
This is how plastic products can be detrimental to our health, the very reason why it is essential that you have to be cautious with the items you use not only at home but even in places. Using eco-friendly products that is free from chemicals is one way to keep our body healthy and our environment safe. So, the next time you shop, make sure that the items you’re going to buy for yourself or your loved ones are free from the chemicals above.