Toxigenic Effects of Plastics on Human HealthAuthor(s): Noopur Mathur, N. Mathur and A. Singh
Plastics are inexpensive, lightweight, strong, durable, corrosion-resistant materials, with high thermal and electrical insulation properties. These properties have made the plastics the most used material for food and liquid packaging. As a consequence, the production of plastics has increased substantially over the last 60 years from around 0.5 million tonnes in 1950 to over 260 million tonnes today. Packaging maintains the benefits of food processing after the process is complete, enabling foods to travel safely for long distances from their point of origin and still be wholesome at the time of consumption. However, plastics also pose health risks. Of principal concern are endocrine disrupting properties, as triggered for example by bisphenol A and di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP). Research has shown that these compounds can leach from plastics into the food and drinks that we consume - more so if they are heated to high temperatures, raising additional concerns about the kinds of plastics that are used as containers in microwave ovens. Looking beyond the essential services that plastics provide to humanity and their associated human health risks, evidence abounds for plastics’ potential to pollute and disrupt important natural processes and quality of life and its continued use at accelerating rates is unsustainable and will cause a significant burden for future generations.