Effects of Plastic Pollution

While plastic is used practically in every household and industry, the production and disposal of plastic poses a great threat to the environment. Unfortunately, the materials used to make plastic take decades to degrade. In addition, the manufacturing process causes the emission of several toxic chemicals, such as ethylene oxide, benzene and xylene, which can cause several diseases and disorders among humans besides contributing to air pollution.

Invariably, when plastic outlives its use, it is either burned or thrown away. These methods of disposing plastic tend to result in air, water and soil pollution. When plastic is burned, it tends to release toxic chemicals into the atmosphere; and when it is cast away, it makes its way into water bodies and soil resulting contamination of both water and soil, which increases the rate of mortality among animals and birds. Even when plastic is recycled, it can pose a threat to workers in the recycling plant. The workers are at a higher risk of developing respiratory disorders and skin problems. However, most plastic recycling plants ensure that workers are provided with adequate protective gear.

Some of the harmful effects of plastic pollution are highlighted below:

Generally, use of plastic is more prevalent in rural areas and hence, plastic pollution has longer lasting effects in these areas. This is primarily because rural areas do not have proper systems in place to dispose plastic. This high use of plastic, unfortunately, leads to death of animals, who unknowingly consume the poorly disposed plastic bags and bottles. Also, during rains, the plastic fallen on roads gets washed into nearby water reservoirs and storm drains. The plastic that find its way into drains tends to block the drains and this provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Whereas, plastic that in water reservoirs tends to slowly contaminate the water, which is supplied to homes and farms for drinking and irrigation.

As plastic decomposes slowly, it tends to release toxic chemical compounds like bisphenol A, styrene trimer and a by-product of plystyrene. Bisphenol A is known to wreak havoc with the reproductive system of animals. Once plastic finds its way into water, the slow degradation poses a great risk to marine life and aquatic birds. At times, marine animals get entangled in the dumped plastic and slowly die. When smaller pieces of plastic are consumed by marine life and other animals, they can choke and suffocate on it.

Today, realizing the harmful effects of plastic pollution, governments are taking measures to ban plastic bags. Also, measures are being taken to recycle plastic to prevent dumping and poor disposal. Many recycled plastic items that are currently available in the market biodegradable. Also, there is a ban in several places on burning plastic as the noxious fumes.

Source by Kum Martin

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