The plastic is inside us. Recycling of waste polymers
If someone thinks that by throwing away a plastic bottle or cellophane cup, he gets rid of plastic forever – they will be buried under the thickness of the same bottles, cups or carried away by the current far into the ocean. How wrong he is. Plastic is the most insidious and all-pervading invention of mankind. He comes back. It is in your mineral water bottle and food. It enters your body with every sip of water.
Every year we produce over 300 million tonnes of plastic waste, which pollutes rivers and oceans and ends up in our stomachs.
MORE DETAILS: INSTALLATION RECYCLING POLYMERS by pyrolysis without harm to the environment
The Orb Media research agency conducted a study and took samples of drinking water from 159 sources of 0.5 liters of water on five continents, including water pipes, wells, wells. And 83% of the samples tested positive. In the United States, one of the highest rates is 94%. In the EU countries, the situation is called the most favorable – 72% of confirmed samples. But according to generally accepted standards, water should not be contaminated with anything.
What is the cleanest water? Bottled, spring. But the researchers of the American agency Orb Media did not stop at the obtained results and studied the composition of bottled water from 11 manufacturers from 9 countries: Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil, China, USA, Thailand and Lebanon. In 93% of cases, plastic particles were found in water of various concentrations.
Microscopic plastic fibers flow from faucets in New York and New Delhi, according to an exclusive study by Orb and a researcher at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. From the halls of the US Capitol to the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda, women, children, men and babies consume plastic with every glass of water.
The plastic is practically indestructible, i.e. it is not biodegradable. It can only break down into smaller particles, down to particles on the nanometer scale. On average, about 10.4 plastic particles were found per liter of water, each of which was no more than 0.025 mm, i.e. thinner than a human hair. Such articles easily pass through all modern filtration systems, get into groundwater, water utilities, a water tap, bottles with drinking water, and fall out with precipitation.
How this might affect your health and the health of your family is not yet fully understood.
If it is found in water, then it is also found in the food we eat. We consume plastic not only for our needs, we also eat it. And in food, it is even more dangerous, since when heated it can release toxic compounds: phthalates, styrene, which negatively affect the liver, kidneys, reproductive organs; formaldehydes, which depress the nervous system, vinyl chloride, cadmium.
The problem with landfills is that they are constantly growing, and the consumption and production of plastic items is not decreasing, no substitutes for plastic are used, i.e. every year garbage in the world increases by 300 million tons, at least.
“We don’t yet know how much plastic gets into the bloodstream. The danger is that too large particles can enter human tissue, ”explains Rolph Holden, director of the Center for Environmental Engineering at Arizona State University.
Heather Leslie, a toxic substances specialist at the Free University of Amsterdam, argues that the ingress of tiny particles of plastic into tissues can cause oxidative processes in the body that lead to chronic inflammation.
What is the greatest danger? Microplastics have been shown to absorb toxic chemicals that cause cancer and other diseases and then release them when eaten with fish and seafood. From the previous article, you learned that at the moment fish and seafood are the most dangerous foods precisely because of plastic waste.
Research shows that nanoplastic particles can migrate through the intestinal wall and enter the lymph nodes and other organs of the body.
Throwing away or disposing of plastic, we do not get rid of the problem, other sources of nanoparticles have been discovered that we come into contact with on a daily basis. And it’s not just plastic utensils, where plastic particles get into the food.
One source is washing machines. As a result of washing synthetic materials, about 700,000 micro-particles of plastic are formed. Most of them, bypassing water purification filters, enter the water supply system.
Car tires made from styrene-butadiene rubber release 20 grams of plastic dust every 100 km that a car passes.
The paint contains about 14% plastic, which is released into the environment.
Scientists say these microscopic fibers can form as a result of daily washing of clothes, upholstery and carpet cleaning. They can enter your household tap, contaminating local water supplies or treatment and distribution systems. There is still no special equipment for filtering or stopping them.
Plastic has turned into landfills, both on land and in the ocean, birds, fish and animals are dying from the hyperconsumption of plastic products, human health and life expectancy becomes at risk. And the situation in the world is not improving; it is predicted that the production of plastics will double in the next 20 years.
You won’t be able to sit back. At the moment, we see two parallel options for getting out of this situation:
It is necessary to radically change the attitude, the concept of production and consumption.
- At the moment, thanks to the development of scientists in the world, many options have been proposed for replacing the plastic component in products with biodegradable materials. On the one hand, such production can be more expensive. But if you do not look at this issue one-sidedly, then you should take into account that alternative materials are more durable and of high quality.
- You can reduce damage by recycling plastic waste. Not surprisingly, the EU has the lowest rate of plastic in water worldwide – 72%. Only in the EU countries the highest rate of plastic recycling – about 30%, in the USA – 9%, and in developing countries it is close to zero. In addition, Europe exports all unrecycled plastic to developing countries for recycling or disposal.
But so far, no more than 9% of all plastic in the world is recycled.
MORE DETAILS: Сomplex for thermocatalytic waste neutralization, 100 kg/hour by pyrolysis without harm to the environment.
Chemicals from plastics are a constant part of our daily diet. We usually assume that a bottle of clean spring water, a microwave-safe plastic bowl in which we prepare food, or a Styrofoam cup with a hot drink protects our food and drinks. Instead of acting as a completely inert barrier, these plastics interact with the environment, with which they are in full contact, and diffusion of plastic nanoparticles into our food occurs, which destroys and leaches the internal environment of the body, washes out beneficial trace elements. Endocrine disrupting plasticizers such as phthalates, flame retardants and even toxic heavy metals are absorbed into our diet and body.
—Scott Belcher, Ph.D.
North Carolina State University