Report outlines how plastic production harms human health, environment, economy


On March 21, 2023, the Minderoo-Monaco Commission on Plastics and Human Health published a report in the Annals of Global Health summarizing impacts from all stages of the plastics supply chain on human health, environmental health, and the economy. With over 10,000 substances known to be used intentionally in plastic products (FPF reported) the report authors focus on the effects from five widely studied chemical groups, specifically: phthalates, bisphenols, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), brominated flame retardants, and organophosphate flame retardant. Further, they provide information on the growing evidence of effects from micro– and nanoplastics.

The human health section gives particular attention to vulnerable populations such as developing fetuses and young children, and those working in and living near manufacturing facilities (FPF reported). Highlighted effects include a 30% increased rate of leukemia in neighboring communities as well as increased rates of breast cancer among men and women working in plastics production facilities with women more than twice as high as in the general population. Furthermore, the authors wrote that prenatal exposure to plastic additives like phthalates and bisphenols leads to worse social and physical outcomes in children (FPF reported, also here and here). To conclude their summary on health effects they write that, “[p]lastic causes disease, disability, and premature death at every stage of its long and complex life cycle – from extraction of the coal, oil, and gas that are its main feedstocks, to transport, manufacture, refining, use, recycling, combustion, and through to reuse, recycling and disposal into the environment.”

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Food Packaging Forum, 21-03-23