Serious Effects of Plastic Bags

 While plastic bags are very useful in our day-to-day lives, and we seemingly can’t do without them, they have a significant contribution to the environmental pollution, wildlife deaths, human health hazards, and other detrimental impacts.

    1. Death of animals

 Plastic bags kill about 100,000 animals annually. Many animals, including whales, dolphins, turtles, penguins, and dolphins, ingest plastic bags as they mistake them food.

Plastic cannot be digested properly and hence will accumulate in the stomach leading to the animal’s death.Even worse, the ingested plastics will remain intact even after the dead animal decomposes. That means another animal may ingest it and eventually suffer the same consequences.(An autopsy of the stomach of a beached whale found 20 square feet of plastic shopping bags that took up its whole stomach. Similar cases have been observed over the past few decades after plastic bags were introduced.)

 2. Plastic bags are non-biodegradable

Plastic can take up to 2000 years to completely decompose. In fact, all the plastic that has ever been manufactured still lingers in the environment. That means you’ll never live to see the decomposition of plastic.

3. Plastic bags are made from petroleum products

Production of plastic takes 60-100 million barrels of oil from the world’s petroleum reserves. Therefore, plastic contributes significantly to the depletion of this valuable resource, making the prices of petroleum products to rise every passing day.

4. Plastic food storage packages have toxic chemicals

Studies have shown that meals that are eaten or heated in plastic bags result in the development of ulcers, asthma, obesity, and certain cancers. This is attributed to the fact that plastic bags have some chemicals that will mix with the meal when heated. One of these chemicals is Bisphenol-A (BPA).

5. Toxic chemicals are released during plastic manufacturing

Ingredients of plastic bags include a plethora of neurotoxic, carcinogenic, and hormone-disruptive chemicals. When released, they eventually end up in our ecosystem through the land, water, and air pollution.

6. Massive accumulations of plastic bags block drainage systems

Plastic bag accumulations are one of the most common causes of drainage system clogging. Developing countries are the most affected with this problem.

7. Plastic bags are the main cause of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Plastic bags have contributed significantly to a massive pile of plastic debris found in the North Pacific Ocean. The garbage pile, which is nearly double the size of Hawaii, is known as the Great Pacific Garbage. According to the Wild Studies Institute, 80% of this garbage in the ocean originates from land.

8. 93% of Americans age six years and above test positive for BPA

We’ve seen that Bisphenol-A is a chemical compound that is used in the manufacture of plastic bags. This chemical is found in plastic food cans and water bottles. When the chemical bonds weaken, BPA is released and normally leaches into your food and water.

9. Plastic bags expose children to lung complications

According to the World Health Organization, when pregnant women are exposed to high concentrations of Phthalates and BPA, which are chemical compounds found in plastic, they may give birth to children with lung problems.These children may also be at high risk of developing asthma later in life. Moreover, children’s exposure to these chemicals has been associated with increased insulin resistance and high blood pressure.

10. Plastic bag chemicals can affect reproduction in women

Certain chemicals used in the manufacturing of plastic bags, especially BPA, act in the same way as estrogen. In the long run, these chemicals may interfere with hormonal balance in women and affect reproduction.

11. Plastic can increase the risk of prostate cancer in men

While plastic-related chemicals largely affect women and children, men are also at risk. According to a study by the World Health Organization, men who are often in contact with phthalates and BPA have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer.  These chemicals can also undermine their reproductive health.

12. Plastic bags result in the pollution of groundwater

  Then, the detrimental effects of plastics would be passed through the ground to our bodies through the plants we consume and the water we drink.

 13. Plastic pollution disrupts the natural food chain

14. By 2050, the oceans will have more waste plastics than fish

During their production. You’ll need about 22 gallons of water to produce one pound of plastic. There’s no need to waste so much water manufacturing harmful plastics.

-Sonia Madaan