THIS IS MY FATHER
Not just a filthy beach: What plastic pollution means for you
Bisphenol-A or BPA, and phthalates, which are additives used in the synthesis of plastics, are of most concern in terms of human health. BPA and phthalates (often added to plastics to increase flexibility) are found in bottles, food packaging and many other items. BPA is a heavily cross-linked polymer which takes a long time to break down, so it isn’t considered especially dangerous during the usual shelf life of the items it is used to package. However, its bonds do break down over time. This happens when plastics are repeatedly washed or exposed to heat or other stressors, such as direct sunlight. This releases BPA and phthalates, which are highly toxic and have been recognized since the 1940s as endocrine disrupting chemicals that interfere with normal hormone function in humans. According to Anila Jacob, M.D., M.P.H. who is a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit research and advocacy organization in Washington, D.C. “It’s an endocrine disruptor and in numerous animal studies it’s been linked to cancer, infertility, obesity and early puberty,” She says that “The CDC has found this chemical in 93 percent of people they have tested” So what do these plastic nasties actually do to humans?