Learn if and when plastics can have a negative impact on your health. We’ve reviewed the best available resources and summarized the answers for here.
Most Popular Questions
How can plastic exposure impact my health?
Plastic exposure can impact your health in a number of ways. The extent do which plastic can impact your health depends on a few factors:
- Exposure Type – the type of plastics you are exposed to and under what conditions.
- Exposure Duration – how much and for how long you are exposed to potentially harmful plastics.
- Personal Risk Factors – the health risks of plastic exposure are especially high for children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems.
These are the most common exposure types:
- Ingestion: Ingesting plastic can lead to a number of health problems, including gastrointestinal problems, liver damage, and cancer.
- Inhalation: Breathing in plastic particles can irritate the lungs and cause respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis.
- Skin contact: Contact with plastic can cause skin irritation, allergies, and even cancer.
- Absorption: Some plastics can be absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream, where they can travel to other parts of the body and cause damage.
These are some of the specific health problems that have been linked to plastic exposure:
- Endocrine disruption: Plastic chemicals can interfere with the body’s hormones, leading to a variety of health problems, including infertility, obesity, diabetes, and cancer.
- Neurological problems: Plastic chemicals can damage the brain and nervous system, leading to problems such as learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism spectrum disorder.
- Reproductive problems: Plastic chemicals can harm the reproductive system, leading to problems such as infertility, miscarriage, and birth defects.
- Immune system problems: Plastic chemicals can weaken the immune system, making people more susceptible to infections and diseases.
- Cancer: Some plastic chemicals have been linked to cancer, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, and leukemia.
The research on the health risks of plastic exposure is still ongoing, but the evidence is clear that plastic can be harmful to human health.
Are chemicals from plastic a threat to my health?
Can Micro and Nano plastics impact my health?
Although studies have shown increasing levels of plastics in our environment, food, and our body, the impact of micro and nano plastics on human health is not very clear.
Potential health problems that have been linked to exposure include:
- Inflammation: Nano and micro plastics can cause inflammation in the body, which can lead to a number of health problems, including heart disease, cancer, and autoimmune diseases.
- Neurotoxicity: Nano and micro plastics can damage the nervous system, which can lead to problems such as learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism spectrum disorder.
- Reproductive problems: Nano and micro plastics can harm the reproductive system, leading to problems such as infertility, miscarriage, and birth defects.
- Immune system problems: Nano and micro plastics can weaken the immune system, making people more susceptible to infections and diseases.
- Cancer: Some studies have shown that nano and micro plastics can cause cancer in animals. However, more research is needed to determine if they can cause cancer in humans.
How can I reduce my exposure to plastics?
Here are some tips for reducing your exposure to plastic:
- Avoid using single-use plastics, such as plastic bags, straws, and water bottles.
- Choose reusable containers for food and drinks.
- Cook with glass or ceramic cookware instead of plastic.
- Avoid microwaving food in plastic containers.
- Wash your hands frequently, especially after handling plastic.
- Choose organic produce whenever possible, as it is less likely to be contaminated with plastic.