Everyday, we inhale, ingest, and touch plastic particles and plastic’s chemical additives that are toxic to human health—through the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the toys, packaging, and clothes we use.
At each stage of its lifecycle, plastic is toxic. The extraction of fossil fuels that create plastic emit over 170 carcinogenic and/or neurotoxic chemicals in fracking alone. The refining of those fuels into plastic pellets emits chemicals like benzene that are known bone marrow poisons. Plastic products also contain large quantities of toxic chemicals, up to 80% by mass. These include carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and heavy metals.
Disposing of plastic through incineration, land-filling, so-called chemical recycling, or ideas like plastic roads or houses also release scores of toxic substances into our air, water, and soils.
Finally, plastic, in the form of macro or microplastics, contaminates and accumulates in food chains, where it can release toxic additives or concentrate additional toxic chemicals, making them available again for direct or indirect human exposure.
Individually, each stage of the plastic lifecycle poses significant risks to human health. Together, the lifecycle impacts of plastic paint an unequivocally toxic picture: plastic threatens human health on a global scale