What Are Some Effects of Plastic Pollution?


Quick Answer

Plastic is extremely durable and takes an incredibly long time to biodegrade. The toxic runoff from plastic leachate harms groundwater resources underneath landfills, and the toxins absorbed from microplastics poison plants and animals that are integral to worldwide food chains. Plastic causes severe harm to wildlife through entanglement and ingestion, and its absorption into the bloodstream can also halt biological functions. Exposure to plastic pollution is harmful for humans and can lead to thyroid hormone axis disruption issues.

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Full Answer

Plastic pollution has a tremendous effect on the health of world waterways and oceans and the living organisms in these bodies of water. Massive microdebris buildups such as the "Great Pacific garbage patch" in the North Pacific Gyre have uniformly negative effects on food chains and biodiversity in affected regions. Although marine animals are disproportionately affected, seabirds also often mistake plastic for food and suffer ulcers, malnutrition, reproductive and digestive issues, and hormone imbalances.

Humans are susceptible to several diseases and afflictions that become more prevalent with exposure to plastic, including cancer, endocrine disruption and impaired illness immunity. Bisphenol A, a major chemical involved in the manufacture of many plastics, may cause fertility disruptions and reproductive and sexual maturation issues in children and young adults.

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