Study reveals disease burden caused by plastic exposure

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plastic-in-food(NaturalHealth365)  There is a good chance that the drinks you enjoy are laden with tiny pieces of plastic invisible until put under a microscope.  Though the ingestion of a small amount of tiny plastics is inevitable, our consumption of plastics has increased with each passing year.

Plastics contain harmful chemicals that contribute to both disease and disability.  A new study published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society details the disease burden and related costs, shedding light on how harmful plastics really are.

Study unveils cost of plastic-related health problems

The recent analysis of plastics delved into a wide range of literature to unveil insights about plastic-related fractions, abbreviated as PRF.  The in-depth PRF analysis explored the connection between diseases and disabilities caused by the consumption of food and drinks containing the following chemicals.

  • PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers)
  • Bisphenols
  • Phthalates
  • PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances)
  • Additional polyfluoroalkyl substances

The scientists in charge of the study updated prior disease cost and burden estimates for such chemicals throughout the nation.  The data served as a foundation for calculating estimates of causally related disease burden along with costs resulting from plastic consumption.

The study results were quite disturbing.  The scientists estimated $249 billion in disease burden attributable to plastic in 2018 alone.  The bulk of the financial burden stems from exposure to PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), a class of chemicals used as flame retardants in various products.  $66.7 billion in disease burden resulted from exposure to phthalates.  PFAS exposure costs another $22.4 billion.

The researchers defined fractions related to plastics by compiling a list of sources that use those chemicals, including their proportions or quantities in each form of use.  The sources used for the study include industry reports and governmental reports.

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The four synthetic chemical categories everyone should know about

Let’s take a closer look at the four primary synthetic chemicals used in foods, beverages, cookware, and other consumer products.  Bisphenol is the most widely known plastic chemical.  Found in plastic wraps, bottles, coatings, and more, bisphenol causes reproductive, liver, and neurological problems.  PFAS have been used for 70+ years on Teflon and packaging to prevent food remnants from remaining in place.

Phthalate chemicals are used in hundreds of consumer products to increase plastic durability.  Though phthalates are excreted, they remain in the body long enough to cause endocrine-related issues.

PBDEs, consisting of 200+ compounds, are used in plastics, textiles, cars, and flame retardants.  They have been tied to altered endocrine functionality, causing fertility problems and slower brain development in children.

Simple steps to minimize microplastic exposure in your daily life

In an era where microplastics have infiltrated various aspects of our lives, safeguarding your health requires proactive measures.  The ingestion of microplastics poses potential risks to your health.  Here are practical solutions to minimize your exposure:

When it comes to your diet, steer clear of processed foods and beverages in plastic bottles.  Instead, prioritize organic, whole foods, and choose beverages stored in glass containers.

Distill or filter water at home to ensure it is free from harmful particles.  Store your purified water in large glass jugs to avoid potential leaching from plastic containers.  This not only promotes a healthier hydration habit but also reduces your exposure to microplastics present in some water sources.

Choose loose-leaf tea varieties over traditional teabags.  The latter can release both nanoplastics and microplastics during brewing.  By opting for loose-leaf teas, you can enjoy your favorite brew without the concern of unintended plastic ingestion.

Grow your own organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs.  Even if you have limited space, a small garden or a vertical plant/herb hanger in your kitchen can provide a sustainable source of fresh produce.  Additionally, frequenting farmers’ markets allows you to support local (organic) growers and access food with minimal plastic packaging.

Never microwave plastic containers, as some leak chemicals into food.  Avoid paper “takeaway” cups, as they also release tiny pieces of plastic when exposed to hot coffee, tea, and other liquids.

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