How plastics are making us infertile

Climate change is rightly cited as an environmental crisis that could lead to human extinction. Yet there is another pollution issue, indirectly related, that could make it literally impossible for human beings to reproduce.

I am talking, of course, about plastic pollution.

Dr. Shanna Swan, a professor of environmental medicine and public health at Mount Sinai school of medicine in New York City, has a new book out called “Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race.” In it she describes how various chemicals commonly found in plastic products are leading to a decline in fertility. The most striking example of this is in dropping sperm counts; if you have fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen, you are considered to have a low sperm count. Human beings are rapidly reaching that point, as Swan demonstrates in her book.

Salon spoke with her about this issue over the phone; as always, this interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What is the thesis of your book?

The thesis of my book is that reproductive health in men and women has been declining dramatically at least over the past 40 years, and that a major part of that decline is linked to everyday exposure to chemicals in the environment that can affect our hormone system. There’s a lot in there and we can spread that all out, but that’s the overall

— source | Matthew Rozsa | Apr 4, 2021

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The US only recycled about 5% of plastic waste last year

By now, many of us have heard the depressing statistic about plastic recycling: Of the 5.8 billion metric tons of plastic waste that the world generated between 1950 and 2015, only about 9 percent has been recycled, leaving the rest to be incinerated, landfilled, or littered directly into the environment.

Until recently, that number was still accurate for the United States, which — according to the most recent data from the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA — recycled about 8.7 percent of its plastic refuse in 2018. But a new report from the nonprofit The Last Beach Cleanup and the advocacy group Beyond Plastics finds that the U.S.’s plastic recycling rate is now significantly lower, with just 5 or 6 percent of the country’s plastic waste converted into new products in 2021.

— source | May 04, 2022

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Microplastics detected in fish samples from Cauvery

A new study by researchers at the Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has found microplastics in fish, causing growth defects, including skeletal deformities, in River Cauvery in south India. The study was conducted at the Krishnaraja Sagar dam, located below the confluence of river Cauvery with its tributaries Hemavati and Lakshmana Tirtha, in the Mandya district of Karnataka. The researchers collected water samples from three different locations with varying water flow speeds – fast-flowing, slow-flowing and stagnant – since water speed is known to affect the concentration of pollutants.

— source | 12 Apr 2022

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Rich countries are illegally exporting plastic trash to poor countries

At the beginning of last year, 187 countries took steps to limit the export of plastic trash from wealthy to developing countries. It’s not working as well as they hoped. According to an analysis of global trade data by the nonprofit Basel Action Network, or BAN, violations of a U.N. agreement regulating the international plastic waste trade have been “rampant” over the past year. Since January 1, 2021, when new new rules were supposed to begin clamping down on countries that ship their plastic refuse abroad, the U.S., Canada, and the European Union have offloaded hundreds of millions of tons of plastic to other countries, where much of it may be landfilled, burned, or littered into the environment.

The regulations in question are part of the Basel Convention, a framework designed to control the international movement of waste that is designated “hazardous.” In the years after it was first adopted in 1989, the convention covered substances such as mercury and pesticides. But in 2019, signatories to the convention agreed to add new guidance for

— source | Apr 15, 2022

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COVID-19 Has Worsened the Ocean Plastic Pollution Problem

Eight million metric tons of plastic waste enter the oceans every year. This equates to one garbage truck’s worth of plastic being dumped into our oceans every minute. This is tragic for many reasons. Whales, fish, seabirds, turtles and many other animals are eating the plastic and dying en masse. This, of course, was all pre-COVID-19. COVID-19 triggered an estimated global use of 129 billion face masks and 65 billion gloves every month.

— source | Aug 17, 2020

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COVID-related plastic waste in the ocean

Around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increased demand for single-use plastics such as face masks, gloves, and face shields. The resulting waste, some of which ends up in rivers and oceans, is intensifying pressure on an already out-of-control global plastic problem. Using the model, the researchers found that more than eight million tons of pandemic-associated plastic waste have been generated globally, with more than 25,000 tons entering the global ocean. Within three to four years, a significant portion of this ocean plastic debris is expected to make its way onto either beaches or the seabed. A smaller portion will go into the open ocean, eventually to be trapped in the centers of ocean basins or subtropical gyres, which can become garbage patches, and a circumpolar plastic accumulation zone in the Arctic Ocean.

— source University of California – San Diego | Nov 8, 2021

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Plastic will destroy us in nine years

While most of us have been focusing on goals related to decreasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere, a subset of scientists have been eying another villain. Now word from the Plastic Health Summit 2021 is that we have nine years to save the world from irreparable plastic-wrought damage. Plastic Soup Foundation organized the one-day summit, held last Thursday, Oct. 21 in Amsterdam. Maria Westerbos, director of Plastic Soup Foundation, demanded that the World Health Organization declare that plastic waste is a public health emergency. If we don’t act now, she said, the harm caused by plastic pollution — both to the planet and to human health — will be irreversible by 2030. Plastic Soup Foundation is based in the Netherlands. Its mission statement begins, “Stop the plastic soup tsunami as soon as possible!”

— source | Oct 25, 2021

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Baby Poop Has Ten Times More Microplastic in It Than Adult Poop

Infants have an average of 10 times the concentration of a type of microplastic in their poop than adults, a pilot study released Wednesday found. The research, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters, follows previous studies reflecting the ubiquity of microplastics—small fibers less than 5 mm in size originating from everyday objects like plastic bottles and polyester clothing and that end up in the planet’s waterways and human guts. Researchers focused on two types of common microplastics—polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polycarbonate (PC)—and measured feces from six infants and 10 adults. They also looked at three samples of newborns’ first waste, which is known as meconium. All were from New York state, and they were all found to have at least one kind of microplastic.

— source | Sep 22, 2021

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