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My plastic diary

Seven o’clock, and there’s an icy storm blowing outside. My warm fleece jumper is covered in cat’s hairs, so I give it a good shake. Plastic microfibers fly all over the place. They get in to my lungs, and for all I know they settle in to the lung tissue. With dirt and all, as the jumper was not too clean. I’m glad I don’t have asthma.

It’s time to get blown away in the park on my morning walk. There’s an empty plastic chips tray floating in the pond. I fish it out and throw it in the rubbish bin. Some viruses and bacteria feel very much at home on plastic, more so than in the wild. I bet they have now hitched a lift on the tiny scraps of plastic that have stayed behind on my fingertips.

A little later, I’m struggling through a complicated report. I can’t seem to concentrate. Is that lack of caffeine, or is my brain full of plastic as well? I wash that last thought away with a big sip of cappuccino.

My tummy begins to rumble. Biological multigrain crackers, cheese and humus on the menu: all hygienically packed in plastic. My lunch has been surreptitiously seasoned with tiny pieces of nanoplastic. They end up in my intestines and who knows, maybe they pass through my intestinal wall in to my blood and lymphatic system. That doesn’t seem healthy: but maybe I will be well-preserved…..

I have a productive afternoon, typing away on my plastic keys, using my mobile in its nice plastic protective cover, making notes with my plastic pen. And then it’s time to clear my head with a run.  My comfy synthetic sports clothes leave minute plastic particles on my skin, so small that they might be able to worm their way in to my cells. I make way for a brand-new mother with a pram. Did her baby already feed on plastic in the womb, via the placenta and the umbilical cord? He looks quite normal….

The running clothes go straight in to the washing machine and the dryer, so that they are nice and fresh for tomorrow.  As soon as I open the door of the dryer, another cloud of microfibers makes a beeline for my lungs.

Hubby is in the kitchen, stirring mussels and fish through the paella. They, of course, have been eating from the plastic soup in the ocean. The plastic has been accumulating in their fishy bodies, and will now move in to mine. When I go to bed later for a well-earned sleep, illegal micro- and nanoplastics may be pioneering their way through my body. If that is indeed the case, then I hope that my immune system will arrest them and throw them out, just as it would with other foreign bodies: although it’s not known whether that actually works with plastic.

Tomorrow, seven o’clock, a new plastic day begins. A new round of breathing, eating and drinking plastic. Fifteen researchers are going to investigate what that has been doing to my health. That’s both good and bad news. I’m feeling as fit as a fiddle, but for certainty’s sake I should maybe start a plastic diet…….

 

Renske Postma

 

Photo by Jeroen Gosse

 

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Announcement: The Plastic Health Coalition gains two new strategic partners

Just one month ago, in an effort to inform people and encourage the reconsideration of our dependence on disposable plastic, we launched the Plastic Health Coalition, a platform for the collection and dissemination of knowledge regarding plastics and human health. Since then, our coalition of 8 partners has already welcomed 2 more organizations in our fight against the plastic soup; the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and Just One Ocean.

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is the leading non-profit organization which addresses how the environment affects human health in Europe and beyond. It works to shape laws and initiatives that promote planetary and human health to protect those most affected by pollution and prevent diseases. Achieving a non-toxic circular economy, in which human exposure to toxic chemicals is minimized and the protection of our environment is prioritized, is the driver of HEAL’s policy and campaign work and a natural reason for joining the Plastic Health Coalition. Recent examples of HEAL’s work on toxics in relation to plastics include the 2018 join report Toxic Loophole, which exposed that recycled plastics in consumer products across Europe are contaminated with brominated flame retardants. HEAL’s membership base consists of more than 70 member-organizations worldwide, including international, European, national, and local groups of health professionals, nonprofit health insurers, patients, citizens, women, youth, and environmental experts, which represent over 200 million people across 53 countries.

Just One Ocean is similarly passionate about its mission, which focuses on the conservation of our oceans vis-a-vis a wide range of dangers, including plastic pollution. It works alongside other NGOs, governments, businesses, industry, and local communities to discover and develop solutions to the many diverse problems the oceans are facing, and believes that public engagement is one of the most important tools which can be used protect our blue planet. Founded by the diver and underwater photographer David Jones in 2014, the organization has been accepted as a member of the European Citizen Science Association and counts on the participation of individuals, governments, NGOs, businesses, and academic institutions to contribute to possible solutions.

We believe that both HEAL and Just One Ocean have dynamic strengths to share with the Plastic Health Coalition and are proud to include them as two invaluable partners in the fight for a healthier planet, and by extension, healthier people. Together, we can save the ocean and save ourselves.