Environmental Effects Of Plastics

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Plastic is a commodity that people use everyday which makes daily life easier and safer. People take pills, use cell phones, and wear bike helmets in addition to a plethora of other activities, but tend to forget that one common element in all of them is the use of plastic. One of the main sources of plastic that has been polluting the environment over the last few decades are plastic bags. Plastic bags can be found in nearly every store to hold groceries, accessories, or toys. While these plastic bags may provide convenience for customers, there is an overwhelming concern about the effect of them on the health and safety of people, marine life, and the surrounding environment. Since stores are the culprit of a vast majority of the plastic…show more content…
A majority of plastic is made of monomers such as ethylene and propylene which are not biodegradable (Geyer et al.). Plastic bags are not biodegradable which means that upon their disposal they are either left in landfills or end up along shorelines of the ocean. A process known as photodegradation can be used to break down plastic bags, but this process is extremely lengthy. Photodegradation works as the sun’s ultraviolet light and infrared radiation have the capability to oxidate the plastic which eventually causes it to become brittle and easier to break into tiny pieces. Photodegradation does work to get rid of the plastic, but it takes an extremely long time to work which usually leads to the incineration of plastic bags or the collection of them in landfills (“What Is Plastic Photodegradation?”). Americans alone use nearly 100 billion plastic bags a year and contribute greatly to the amount of plastic pollution in the environment (“Single-Use Plastic Bag Facts”). If stores were to impose a 5-cent charge on the plastic bags, then there would be a decrease in the amount of them brought into the environment. This decrease in plastic bags over time could help towards decreasing the amount of pollution affecting the environment. It has been reported that up to 80% of the pollution from landfills ends up in the ocean affecting nearly 267 different…show more content…
Some plastic bags contain a chemical known as bisphenol A which has been correlated to abnormal brain development linked with autism in children (Kim et al.). The increase in autism over the last couple of decades has occurred around the same time that plastic pollution began to rise. This could be evidence to the fact that the chemicals found in plastic play a role not only in the overall health of humans, but in pre-birth brain development. There have also been reports of an increase in problems with fertility among women over the last few decades. According to a study conducted by the University of California, exposure to bisphenol A compromised the quality of a woman’s eggs which was linked to a decrease in fertility (Rodriguez). Bisphenol A is a chemical found in plastic bags and plastic water bottles and could possibly explain the increase infertility as plastic pollution has also been steadily on the rise. Not only would stores be helping to reduce the amount of pollution in the environment if they charged 5-cents per plastic bag, but it could potentially lead to an increase in fertility and normal brain development in children in the
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