WATCH: How plastics—and the chemicals in and attached to them—threaten future generations

"No plastic has been tested thoroughly—none. Zip. Zero. Nada."

Redesign plastics. Reform chemical regulation. Recharge health advocates.


That was the take-home message from Pete Myers—chair, founder, and chief scientist of Environmental Health Sciences, publisher of Environmental Health News—at the Plastic Health Summit 2019, which took place on Oct. 3 in Amsterdam. Myers was one of 36 speakers at the inaugural event.

He opened on a personal note—showing a picture of his granddaughter, born premature in January, in the neonatal intensive care unit. "The plastics in that unit saved her life," he said.

But he then showed pictures of California's Paradise wildfire that took place months earlier and sent smoke and pollution to the Bay Area where his daughter was living during her third trimester. Many homes, full of plastics, burned during the fire, releasing contaminants such as bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates that are linked to the "very condition that forced that premature birth," he said.

We know enough already to be concerned, Myers said: How hormone-altering chemicals are both purposefully and inadvertently added to the plastics ubiquitous in our lives and how tiny exposures to these compounds can have large impacts on our health and the health of children.

"No plastic has been tested thoroughly—none. Zip. Zero. Nada," Myers said, adding that the health tests used by regulators on plastic contaminants are based on"16th century" principles.

Myers offered a new version of the "three R's:" Instead of "reduce, reuse, recycle," he suggested redesign plastics without harmful pollutants, reform regulation to account for low doses that may have harm, and recharge health advocates.

"The odds against us winning this given the amount of money associated with the plastics industry are staggering, but it's not impossible," Myers said. "This problem is more serious than any of us imagined."

See Myers' full talk in the video above and check out the other speakers at PlasticHealthCoalition.org.

Print Friendly and PDF
SUBSCRIBE TO EHN'S MUST-READ DAILY NEWSLETTER: ABOVE THE FOLD
Researcher Pat Hunt at her Washington State University lab. (Credit: Lynne Peeples)
Originals

Exposed: On the edge of research honesty

This is part 2 of a 4-part investigation of the science surrounding the chemical BPA and the U.S. regulatory push to discredit independent evidence of harm while favoring pro-industry science despite significant shortcomings.

Keep reading... Show less
Originals

Clouded in Clarity: A comic on chemicals & controversy

Harmful chemicals are difficult to understand. So, to pair with our investigation, "Exposed" we present EHN's first comic, "Clouded in Clarity," which focuses on BPA and the controversy around an ongoing, massive study on it.

Keep reading... Show less
Researchers Ana Soto, Carlos Sonnenschein and Silva Krause looking at mammary glands from a BPA experiment at Tufts University. (Credit: Ana Soto)
Originals

Exposed: How willful blindness keeps BPA on shelves and contaminating our bodies

We all are exposed daily to bisphenol-A (BPA) and other bisphenols – estrogen-like substances added to food can liners, paper receipts and plastic containers.

Keep reading... Show less
BPA testing in the lab of Cheryl Rosenfeld, a University of Missouri researcher. (Credit: Cheryl Rosenfeld)
Originals

Exposed: A scientific stalemate leaves our hormones and health at risk

This is part 1 of a 4-part investigation of the science surrounding the chemical BPA and the U.S. regulatory push to discredit independent evidence of harm while favoring pro-industry science despite significant shortcomings.

Keep reading... Show less
From our Newsroom

Above The Fold

Daily & Weekly newsletters all free.