Toxic Threats Throughout the Plastics Life Cycle
People are exposed to toxic chemicals in every stage of the plastics life cycle
Plastic by the Numbers
Over 13,000 chemicals in plastics have been identified, and more than 3,200 of these chemicals are known to be substances of concern (there is incomplete or no hazard data on hundreds of other plastic chemicals). Some of the toxic chemicals in plastics are persistent organic pollutants (POPs), some are endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), and others are chemicals known or suspected of causing serious health problems. Toxic chemicals in plastics have been linked to cancers, damage to the immune and reproductive systems, impaired intellectual functions, developmental delays, and other serious health conditions.
Evidence suggests that we are already seeing serious health problems from chemical exposures throughout the plastics lifecycle. For example, concerns have been raised about global declines in sperm counts, potentially related to chemicals used in some plastics. One recent study suggests that we have already exceeded the “planetary boundaries” for plastics and chemical production, meaning that production and emissions may be threatening the stability of the entire global ecosystem.