Experts ring alarm about toxic chemicals in single-use plastics

Staff Correspondent

9 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Experts warned of another pandemic waiting to happen with diseases borne out of toxic chemicals present in most food packaging and single-use plastics.

The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) the Asia Pacific along with Break Free From Plastic, Greeners Actions (Hong Kong), Health Care Without Harm-Southeast Asia, and UPSTREAM gave this warning.

“The dramatic rise in the use of single-use plastics in food service during the pandemic has been fueled by a false industry narrative that single-use plastics (SUPs) prevent virus transmission,” said Miriam Gordon, UPSTREAM Policy Director in a virtual media briefing on Wednesday night over “The Unwrapped Project: Exposing the health risks of plastics + food packaging chemicals”.

“COVID-19 research demonstrates the virus is transmitted from aerosolized droplets not by touching contaminated surfaces and the idea that plastic packaging makes us safer lacks any scientific basis,” she said.  While SUPs are being marketed as the safer option, The Unwrapped Project is exposing that there are over 4,000 chemicals present in plastic packaging and many are known to be hazardous to human health.

In test samples from 19 locations worldwide, 93 per cent of the bottled water samples contained micro-plastics with an average of 10.4 plastic particles per litre.

Microplastic can translocate across the gut and enter the circulatory system, accumulate in the major organs, and travel through the lymph system ending up in the liver and spleen.

When inhaled micro-plastics, depending on size and shape, can travel through the respiratory system, become lodged in the lungs, and possibly translocate to other parts of the body.

“During the pandemic, we encourage people to bring their own food boxes when ordering takeaways. The risks of contracting the virus come from respiratory contact,” said Michelle Chung, Senior Project Officer and lead of the ST0P campaign at Greeners Action in Hong Kong.

 “With our ST0P campaign, we educate consumers and business owners (restaurants and malls) alike that there are safer options to use other than SUPs that end up in landfills.”

Knowing the hazards of the toxic chemicals found in plastics food packaging, the groups are calling for making alternatives available by providing incentives to refilling stations and Zero Waste stores.