Is your body at stake?

There is strong evidence that your body is at stake —people are exposed to plastics and their additives every day in a variety of ways. We already know that many additives in plastic are considered extremely harmful, but there is no complete understanding of the effects of plastic itself on human health yet.

MAJORITY OF ADDITIVES NOT TESTED

This is alarming. We are exposed to all kinds of plastic and hundreds of additives, from hormone disruptors like BPA and BPF to brominated flame retardants, every day. There is no escape. These chemicals give plastics characteristics such as plasticity, color, malleability, durability, and the hardness that some products need. Many of these additives are endocrine disruptors which have been shown to have harmful effects on life, especially when exposure occurs in developmental stages. Even more alarming is the fact that the vast majority of additives have not been tested at all.

Exposure to plastic

So far, there has been consistent evidence indicating that exposure to plastics and the additives therein may lead to a variety of health complications. Plastic particles have been found in human feces, for example –but what does plastic do to our bodies? To summarize: endocrine disrupting chemicals, often used to make plastic clear and durable, are associated with a disruption in fertility cycles, delayed neurodevelopment in children, immune disorders, and a higher risk of hormone-related cancers.

Endocrine disrupting chemicals furthermore affect thyroid function and the metabolism. These chemicals have also been found in human breast milk. We not only consume microplastics when we eat contaminated food, but plastic microfibers are present in the air we breathe, the clothes we wear, and even the water we drink — there is indeed no escape.

Is plastic cause for concern?

How much plastic have you come into contact with today, and how much of that is cause for concern? Your clothes may be synthetic or contain a certain percentage of synthetic material; your toothbrush is probably plastic; what about your keyboard? Maybe you wear plastic glasses; if you’re wearing makeup, there’s a very high chance that it contains plastic ingredients, especially if it’s waterproof. There are the containers you store food in and synthetic carpeting. The list is overwhelming.

WHAT IS IT DOING TO OUR BODIES?

We’re not saying this is problematic in and of itself. What we’re saying is that the realm of what we do not know about plastics and what they do to our bodies is so vast, that coupled with our constant exposure to it, we can’t help but be very concerned.

Plastic is killing

At this stage, plastic has become ubiquitous in our world. It is common knowledge that its presence in the environment poses an immense risk to wildlife. But what about us? Isn’t it logical that if the excess of plastic is killing dolphins and turtles, that it could be disastrous for humans as well?

MORE RESEARCH NEEDED

This may not entail us trapped in six-pack plastic rings or choking on straws. It’s the toxic additives and constant unwitting exposure to plastics that we need to be concerned about. We need more research, and in the meantime, we need to drastically cut down on our reliance on plastic —it’s everywhere, putting our planet and our bodies at stake.

Read our Position Paper

Plastic facts

Humans are exposed to microplastics and their additives through ingestion, inhalation and possibly through touching plastics the whole day. Children born now are much more exposed to plastics than earlier generations. Many of the harmful substances we are exposed to (such as flame retardants) accumulate in the body over time.

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Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) such as BPA, which are commonly found in plastics, are possibly related to an increasing number of disorders, from reproductive and development issues to an increased chance of hormone-related cancers. They have been found in breastmilk, amongst other places. EDCs mimic and disrupt the natural behavior of hormones in the body. Newborn babies and young people are extra vulnerable.

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The amount of plastics in the environment increases and plastic fragmentizes into ever smaller particles. Nanoparticles may cross cell membranes and spread through the entire body. Among the expected consequences is behavioral change. The occurrence of nanoplastic particles has been observed in both fish and mammals.

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Brominated flame retardants used in plastics may cause neurobehavioral alterations; there is a dire need for more research in this field due to widespread human exposure to such substances.

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BPA has been found in the blood and urine of almost everybody that has been tested. While BPA might be banned from an increasing number of products, alternative bisphenols belong to the same chemical group and can be expected to be equally harmful to health. Beware of greenwashing! Remember, “BPA free” does not mean EDC free!

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After reading this you might feel a little overwhelmed. Please don’t despair. We want you to meet Betty, your personal dietician. She will guide you through our Ultimate Plastic Diet. Start your diet here!

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Groundbreaking research projects

We are exposed to nanoplastics and microplastics every day. It’s in the food we eat, the cosmetics we use, the clothes we wear, the air we breathe. It’s in our couches, curtains, phones, and computers. We can’t escape bodily exposure to plastic, yet we don’t know the extent to which tiny plastic particles and the additives there in penetrate and harm our bodies — alarming indeed. This is why 9 to 14 groundbreaking research projects on microplastics and health will be funded by ZonMw next year.

In July 2018, ZonMw launched a call for research proposals on microplastics and health. In January 2019, 9 to 14 proposals will be reviewed and chosen by the Programme Committee Microplastics & Health and subsequently carried out by postdoctoral researchers. The projects will start in April 2019 and will last for one year. With its call for proposals, ZonMw aims to gain insight into potential health risks for human exposure to nanoplastics and microplastics through ingestion and inhalation.

The Plastic Soup Foundation, supported by the Plastic Health Coalition, will disseminate the progress and results of these groundbreaking research projects to the public. From next year on, all the relevant information and video footage will be published on this page.

Plastic health lab

Do you want to know if there are plastics or dangerous plastic additives in your drinking water, tea bags, vacuum cleaner bags, meat, furniture, wet wipes, or toothpicks? We sure do! That’s why we’re going to test a wide variety of products over the course of at least three years. All these products and more will be tested in a lab at the Vrije Universiteit (VU) of Amsterdam, under the supervision of Dr. Heather Leslie. The first results of these tests will soon be published on this page. We will also provide you with tips on alternative products you can use.

 

Coming soon: Bottled water

Coming soon: Anti-ageing facial products

Coming soon: Microwave meals

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The ultimate plastic diet

We all consume too much plastic — literally. There is plastic in the food we eat, the water we drink and even the air we breathe.  Unfortunately, what most people don’t realise is that when plastic enters our bodies it might make us sick. The chemicals in plastic and plastic particles can cause several diseases.

By going on a plastic diet, you can reduce the amount of plastic you use. We provide you with the right alternatives to prevent yourself from getting sick because of the toxic chemicals sometimes added to plastics.

Start your plastic diet now