They reveal that chemicals in plastics are more numerous and dangerous than thought

The plastics They contain at least 3,000 more chemicals – from food packaging to toys and medical devices – than environmental agencies had previously estimated, according to a report, raising questions about pollution and consumer safety.

While the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) had previously identified around 13,000 plastic chemicals, a team of European scientists found more than 16,000 chemicals in plastics, a quarter of which are believed to be dangerous to human health and the environment.

The report, funded by the Norwegian Research Council, is published as government negotiators struggle to craft the world's first treaty to tackle rising plastic pollution, as some 400 million tonnes of plastic waste is produced each year.

“To robustly solve plastic pollution, you actually have to look at the entire life cycle of plastics and address the chemicals problem,” said paper co-author Jane Muncke, director general of the Swiss Packaging Forum. Food, a non-profit organization.

This is because plastic chemicals can leach into water and food.

“We are finding hundreds, if not thousands, of plastic chemicals in people now and some of them have been linked to adverse health outcomes,” Muncke said. Such impacts include fertility problems and cardiovascular disease.

“When we analyze…the products we use every day, we typically find hundreds, if not thousands, of chemicals in an individual plastic product,” said lead author Martin Wagner, an environmental toxicologist at Norwegian University Science and Technology.

Kimberly Wise White, vice president of regulatory and technical affairs at the American Chemistry Council, an industry group whose members are dominated by plastics makers, said the findings were intended to “promote a hazard framework that ignores real-world exposures and paints an incomplete picture.” for regulators and the public.

While the plastics industry has said that any global treaty should promote recycling and reuse of plastic, addressing plastic waste alone is not enough to protect people, the report's authors said.

Scientists noted the need for greater transparency about which chemicals (including additives, processing aids and impurities) are used in plasticsincluding recycled products.

A quarter of identified chemicals lack basic information about their basic chemical identity, according to estimates.

“At the heart of the problem is the chemical complexity of plastics,” said Wagner, who also serves on the board of the Coalition of Scientists for an Effective Plastics Treaty.

“Often producers don't really know what kind of chemicals are in their products and that comes from very complex value chains.”

Only 6% of chemicals found in plastics are internationally regulated. Without regulatory pressure, “there is no motivation to reveal what is in plastics,” he said.

This is something a plastics treaty could help address. Negotiations continue in Ottawa, Canada, with the goal of finalizing a treaty in the South Korean city of Busan.

(With information from Reuters)

Microplastics found in human bloodstream

Elephants die from eating plastic in Sri Lanka landfill