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Plastics beyond planetary safety limits, chemical pollution: research

Less than 10 percent of the world’s plastics are recycled.

For the first time, scientists conclude that the torrents of artificial chemical and plastic waste around the world have far exceeded the limits of safety for humankind or the planet, and that production limits are urgently needed.


An estimated 350,000 chemicals are manufactured on the market, and large quantities of them are released into the environment.

“The impact we are beginning to see today is large enough to affect the important functions of the planet Earth and its systems,” new study co-author Bethany Kearney Almros said in an interview with AFP. Told to.

The study by the Stockholm Resilience Center precedes the UN Conference on “Source-to-Sea” Plastic Pollution Efforts in Nairobi at the end of the month, said Inger Andersen, Head of the United Nations Environment Program. Said on Monday.

Chemicals and plastics are affecting biodiversity, putting additional stress on already stressed ecosystems.

Pesticides kill organisms indiscriminately, and plastics are ingested by organisms.

“Some chemicals interfere with the hormonal system and interfere with the growth, metabolism and reproduction of wildlife,” said Kearney Almros.

More effort is needed to prevent these substances from being released into the environment, but scientists are now looking for more drastic solutions, such as production limits.

Chemicals and plastics are affecting biodiversity, putting additional stress on already stressed ecosystems

Chemicals and plastics are affecting biodiversity, putting additional stress on already stressed ecosystems.

“Make it sloppy”

So far, recycling has produced mediocre results.

Despite doubling production to 376 million tonnes since 2000, less than 10% of the world’s plastics are now recycled.

Gross weight today plastic Recent studies show that the amount of biomass on Earth is now four times that of all living animals.

“What we are trying to say is that we may have to say’enough’. Maybe I can’t stand any more, “said a Swedish-based researcher.

“Maybe we need to put an upper limit on production. Maybe we need to say,’I can’t produce any more.'”

The Stockholm Resilience Center has been conducting research on “planetary boundaries” in nine areas that affect the stability of the planet for several years. Greenhouse gas emissionsFreshwater usage and ozone layer.

The purpose is to determine if humanity is in a “safe operating space” or if it goes beyond its limits and threatens the future of the planet.

Break the boundaries of the planet

Break the boundaries of the planet.

So-called “new entity” or artificial influence Chemistry Products such as plastics, antibiotics, pesticides and non-natural metals have been major problems in the past.

And the answer is complicated.

“We are just beginning to understand the large and long-term effects of these exposures,” said Kearney Almros.

Not only are these products thousands, but there is no data on the risks they pose or they are often classified as trade secrets.

In addition, chemicals are relatively recent, most of them developed over the last 70 years.

“And we’re talking about 350,000 different substances,” said Kearney Almros.

“We have no knowledge of most of them, how much they are produced, or their stability, or their fate in their environment or their toxicity.”

“We know what some of them are. For most of them, we have no clue.”

Even the most comprehensive databases, such as the European Union’s REACH inventory, cover only 150,000 products, and only one-third of them are subject to detailed toxicity studies.

One study author said it was

One study author said it was “sufficient”

“No silver bullet”

As a result, the team of researchers focused on what was known, and this partial information was sufficient to draw surprising conclusions.

“Looking at changes over time and trends in production lost in the environment … and connecting it to the little we know about the impact, all the arrows are pointing in the wrong direction. I can say, “said Kearney Almros.

She added that “time to undo this situation” is still available, but “urgent and ambitious action at the international level” is needed.

The total weight of plastic on earth is now four times that of all living animal biomass.

The total weight of plastic on earth is now four times that of all living animal biomass.

In addition, “there is no silver bullet.”

“No one can solve this because many of these chemicals and materials are what we use and are necessary for our lives today,” she said. rice field.

She emphasized the need to reduce production, no matter how much effort is put into production or waste management.

“This seems pretty obvious to say, but it’s only recently accepted as the truth. The more you produce, the more you release.”


Researchers say they have crossed the safe planetary boundaries of pollutants, including plastics


© 2022 AFP

Quote: Plastics beyond planetary safety limits, chemical contamination: Survey (February 15, 2022) https: //phys.org/news/2022-02-plastic-chemical-pollution-planet-safe.html to 2022 Obtained February 15, 2014

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Plastics beyond planetary safety limits, chemical pollution: research

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