A DANGER TO HEALTH…

We use it everyday, we drink from it everyday and most of us are guilty of eating from it every day (especially those involved in fitness).

It’s nothing illegal, it’s not addictive and it’s not or should not be consumed. But it is the packaging of choice and along with damaging the environment it could be damaging your health.

We use it for packaging in foods, our water is packaged in it, we use it so much that we are now charged for bags in the shops to carry your plastic covered consumables.

This week we will look at PLASTIC.

Don’t think I’ll even be looking into the cosmetic side of plastics, the less obvious dangers are probably more damaging to our food, drink and health!

Before we even look at how this can affect our food and drink, just making it is already affecting your health and burning through our limited fossil fuels. Both oil and gas are used in the production of this “cheap” material that is used so often by manufacturers, when we are trying to be “green” we always think of energy, pollution and walking instead of car etc. But we don’t give as much thought to our shopping bags and the production of our water bottles that we re-use and throw away.

NURDLES.

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Had to google this one as I’d never heard of a nurdle and it sounded like some daft kids character. But a nurdle is a small plastic pellet about the size of a lentil. With countless billions used each year to make nearly all our plastic products it makes a convenient way to produce and ship plastic. The major problem with this is that many end up in our oceans.

Due to the tiny size of these plastics, they have been going unnoticed as an ocean litter for a good while. Not only do these present an immediate danger to marine life in that they are regularly swallowed in mistake for food, but plastics act like a sponge for toxins in the water and can concentrate them to levels millions of times higher than the surrounding sea water. These toxins do not break down or go away.

As these nurdles are the size of fish eggs they are regularly targeted by animals, sea birds and crustaceans.

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Not only does this affect the animals eating them, it also has an impact on those eating these animals, so yes we are eating them too.

Now we often think of these kind of problems happening in America or other places with big oceans and cargo ship lanes. However Scotland is majorly at risk and the East Coast in particular is hit regularly by the nurdles.

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You may have heard of the Hawaiian beaches that have been reported as 72% plastic (almost the same as some of the celebrities in C.A). Well that doesn’t mean that the beaches are made up of bags and bottles, but the durable nurdle has been a culprit as they have become a regular constituents of much of our sands.

Nurdles account for around 10% of litter on beaches globally, pretty high when you consider the size of these tiny particles. This also shows that not only is plastic damaging the environment and our health, but the plastic manufacturers are directly responsible for one of the biggest sources of plastic pollution.

Most fossil-based plastics and even some plant-based plastics will not biodegrade. However when exposed to light, they can photodegrade and be broken down by light. Great! They can be killed! Well, not so great. What they do is break down into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic, dangerous to sealife? Yes, but they also provide a greater threat and can become embedded in the zooplankton. these plankton are at the very bottom of the food chain, drift with the tides and currents and create a base poison to our food sources with the toxins from the plastics.

As plastic is a fairly new material and is such a sturdy compound, it is still unkown how long it will take to degrade. One thing that is know is that all plastic that has been made (except stuff that has been melted by incineration) is still around today. More worrying is that it is still being made….where the hell is it all going to go???

On that cliff hanger we’ll leave it there today and look into how plastic and consuming from it can be detrimental to our health.

Until then thanks for reading and:

LIFT, LIVE, LEARN!

Euan MacNeil

 

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