Friday, April 5, 2013
2013-04-05 "The Environmental Hazards of Plastic Bottles"
Ethics Alerts from Media Freedom International [http://www.mediafreedominternational.org/2013/04/05/the-environmental-hazards-of-plastic-bottles]:
Student Researcher: Joanne Edrington, Indian River State College
Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D., Indian River State College
We go into any grocery store and venture through the aisles and all you see on the shelves are plastic bottles. Plastic is everywhere. Everything we consume is all packaged in plastic containers. Plastic packaging is the norm. Even the water we drink is packaged in plastic. In fact the U.S. purchases more bottled water than any other country in the world. How can something that has become so versatile become such a danger to our health and our environment? Just how safe is our drinking water and how safe are our marine life and oceans? Has anyone stopped to think what toxins are being released into our bodies and that we are polluting our environment and oceans by improperly disposing of these plastic materials? It washes up on our beaches, toxic chemicals leech into our oceans, leaves our innocent marine life to ingest and become poisoned, and these chemicals get absorbed into the human tissue and cause sickness and disease to our human body, which takes many years to show up in our DNA and then it is too late. The damage to our bodies has already been done. Plastic bottles also take its toll on our natural resources like crude oil. The energy it requires to make these water bottles is17 million barrels of crude oil. It adds to the cost of the ever rising oil prices that Americans have to pay, which impacts us not just environmentally but economically.
In today’s society we have become accustomed to the live on the fast track, taking the quickest and simplest path to make our lives easier. Our planet is paying the price for all our unruliness and indolent way of existence. Our generation has become increasingly dependent on plastics for our current everyday lives. From the bottle water we drink, to the plastic baby bottles we feed our children, or to the plastic components in our vehicles to make cars more fuel efficient. . Although plastic bottles may be convenient for our everyday consumption they can have a big negative impact on the environment. According to MSNBC the average use of water bottles went from 3.3 billion sold in 1997 to 15 billion in 2002. These plastic pollutants we depend on every day are poisoning our already fragile ecosystem by releasing toxins into our air and leeching into our oceans where it is killing our marine life and most importantly contaminating our sole subsistence way of life. These plastics toxins absorb into our bodies and alter our DNA and cause life threating diseases that won’t show up for many years to come; in addition, processing plastics uses up our natural resources, filling up our landfills, further causing much harm to our planet. Even our government doesn’t consider the use of plastics a danger even though plastics have chemical toxin known as BPA (Bisphenol A).
Bisphenol A is found in most polycarbonate plastics and is one of the highest-volume chemicals produced globally, including the water bottles that we consume and we take for granted, sports bottles, shatterproof baby bottles, our children toys, PC plastic products, dental sealants even in the food that we eat. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention about 90 percent of Americans have traces of BPA in their systems, mainly because it leaches out of bottles, canned food and other food containers by a process called hydrolysis in which the chemicals react with water braking down the BPA into our food and beverages we consume and it eventually gets released into our natural environment causing much harm. Some scientists believe exposure to BPA can harm young children and infants and maybe damaging the reproductive and nervous systems, possibly leading to life threating disease and other illnesses. This is an ongoing problem and we use more and more plastic products causing pollution to our oceans and landfills
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency up to 12 percent of this country’s waste is made up of plastics and these materials aren’t biodegradable which means they don’tt break-down into the environment causing problems in the landfill and oceans. Only about 7 percent of plastics are recycled and the rest end up in landfills where it may takes many years to decompose, and potentially leak pollutants contaminating the soil and water. It’s estimated that there are roughly 100 million tons of plastic fragments floating around in the oceans endangering the health and safety of our marine habitants; this is about 80 percent of all floating debris that ends up in our oceans. The sun breaks down the plastic and toxins leech out into the seas and get ingested by the sea life which then enters the food chain and can possibly get ingested by humans. Another problem is abandoned plastic fish nets which make up 10 percent of marine litter. Marine animals get entangled in these nets and most ultimately drown. There are also floating resin pellets that get mistaken for food. This raises havoc for our birds and sea turtles which mistake these pellets for food and ingest them and sooner or later die of starvation or die from ruptured organs.Commercial and recreational boats make up the last of the 10 percent of the ocean’s pollution.
Plastic pollution is a preventable act. With the growing need to sustain our planet and its natural resources, Americans needs to take the responsibility of getting in the habit of recycling and cutting down their consumption of non-biodegradable materials. Our sea life and oceans are not replaceable and once they are gone they won’t be around for our future generations to cherish and enjoy. There needs to be more awareness and education on these issues so people can realize how fragile this ecosystem really is.
Zion Lights, “What’s the problem with plastic bottles?” One Green Planet [http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/whats-the-problem-with-plastic-bottles/]