Would you ever eat a piece of plastic? The answer is obvious: no person endowed with common sense would ever bite on and swallow a sheet of cellophane or a portion of polystyrene. But, contrary to what we might think, this is what happens every day on our tables while we delude ourselves into thinking that we use only healthy products in our kitchen. The fault is ours, or better, of the amount of waste we scatter in the environment, especially in the seas. A scientific study, in fact, has recently analysed the amount of degraded plastic, i.e. subject to a process of deterioration, present in the oceans and has come up with a shocking discovery: in the main water bodies of the planet there are at least 5,250 billion particles of this material, that are the equivalent of 268,940 tonnes.
A true harmful and invisible tide, that inevitably ends, according to the scientists, to be ingested by plankton, i.e. by micro-organisms which are at the basis of the food chain. To simplify: plankton eat toxic substances, fish eat plankton, we eat fish. And since our body is not capable of eliminating plastic, it begins to circulate in blood and is gradually deposited on the heart, lungs, liver, brain, etc.
To understand the extent of the impact, just think of the North Pole that has been “invaded” for a long time now by chemicals such as pops (Persistent Organic Pollutants), PCBS (polychlorinated biphenyls), DDT (a pesticide banned in Western countries long ago) and Chlordane, an broad-spectrum insecticide used on fruits and vegetables, and dioxins. Eskimo women’s milk contains chlordane and Pcb in quantities that are respectively ten and five times higher than the level recorded in those who live in the industrial areas of Southern Canada. These substances can damage the liver, reproductive and immune systems, in addition to causing tumour forms and affecting infants via maternal milk. Various studies carried out by Canadian, Swedish, and Danish researchers have pointed out that there is correlation between the presence of some Pop in the diet and the lowering of the immune system in children, a fact that leads to frequent pathologies.
PCBS present in plastic, on the other hand, can have various effects on sex hormones (such as oestrogen), central nervous system and, in the long term, on intellectual functions. The same substance seems to be responsible also for the appearance of reproductive problems in raptors and in some mammals such as mink and otters. Not only. According to the scientists of the Norwegian Svalbard Science Forum, a research centre located on the homonymous islands between Norway and the North Pole, some of those particles are supposedly at the base of the hermaphroditism phenomenon, i.e. the simultaneous presence of male and female genital organs, in at least forty white bears out of 3 thousand.
Translated by Ecaterina Severin