Unexpected Effects of Plastic Pollution

Most people don’t take it seriously, but our planet is being seriously ravaged by billions of tons of plastic. This has been going on since the 1950s, and despite our continuous efforts in minimizing the widespread damage, it’s still not enough. Plastic is literally everywhere and now, our reckless disposal of it is starting to have some unexpected side effects on not just animals and the environment but our bodies as well. And yes, it’s really as bad as you think!

1. Plastic is Forming a New Kind of Rock

It takes anywhere between 20 and 500 years for plastic to break down, though it never fully decomposes. In the meantime, our planet seems to be adapting to the rapid build up of plastic, and this is clearly seen in the new kind of rock that seems to be developing. It’s called plastiglomerate, and it’s what happens when plastic fuses with bits of materials such as volcanic fragments, sediment, sand and organic matter over time. Technically it isn’t a real rock, but it’s just as tough if not tougher than regular ones.

2. Phthalates in Plastic Have Been Linked to Early Death 

Phthalates is one of the compounds found in plastic that adds to its flexibility, durability, longevity and transparency. The downside is that they’re incredibly dangerous, and are linked with damage to many organs including the reproductive system, kidneys and liver. What’s even more shocking is that recent studies have discovered that phthalates may be related to over 100,000 premature deaths, particularly those between the ages of 55 and 64. Anyone can be exposed to this substance as they’re found in many things including food containers, beauty products, cleaners, toys and so much more.

3. Chemicals in Plastics May be Contributing to Obesity

As many of you already know, plastic is full of really bad chemicals, many of which have been linked to obesity. As noted by the World Health Organization, obesity rates have tripled since 1975, although poor eating habits and lack of exercises are major factors, the math still doesn’t quite add up. One theory is that chemicals in plastic are a contributing factor, a theory that can be backed up by numerous studies. So far, researchers have identified approximately 629 chemicals, eleven of which are known to interfere with how our bodies metabolize fat. 

4. Plastic is Literally Everywhere

There’s no avoiding plastic—it’s literally everywhere! We already know that it’s fusing into rocks, but there are also microscopic pieces floating in the atmosphere, and even the food we eat. Sea creatures including fishes are known to consume plastic that can still be found in their guts after they’ve been caught. Vegans may see this as yet another reason to not eat animals but even fruits and vegetables are riddled with plastic. One study by Italian researchers discovered that apples contained 195,500 plastic particles in them. The same goes for  tap water which is contaminated with plastic impurities.

5. Human Organs are Full of Microplastics – Even in Newborns

Because plastic is so abundant—it’s in our food, water, even the air we breathe—it’s no surprise that our bodies are riddled with microplastics. Not only do they settle in our stomachs, but they also make their way to other organs including the lungs, livers, kidneys and even in the brain, as microplastics can cross the blood-brain barrier. Not even unborn babies are completely safe—some of these tiny particles, not just vital nutrients, can be transferred from mother to child via the placenta.

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