When grocery shopping, we would normally lookup for the ingredients of the food we are purchasing as we would avoid harmful ingredients, for instance, allergens. But have you ever thought of the ingredients that make up plastics? The presence of plastics in food has been found in many studies and most importantly, in marine environments and seafood. As our ecosystems are intrinsically linked, plastics have probably contaminated the entire food chain.
Plastics aren’t only composed of polymers; they also consist of additives which enhance or give character to plastics, physically and chemically. Some of these additives are highly toxic. Additives of high level of concern in non-food and food packaging identified by the Food Packaging Forum are hazardous metals (banned in the EU and US for packaging), bisphenols, phthalates, and PFAS chemicals.
Studies have shown that plastic additives may leach and migrate into our foods as they aren’t chemically bound to the polymer matrix of plastics. Additives have detrimental health effects as some are carcinogenic, neurogenic, and endocrine disruptors leading to chronic diseases, cancer, neurotoxicity, necrosis, reproductive toxicity, etc. They too are environmentally persistent and could accumulate in the food chain.
Other than plastic additives, the degradation of plastics into micro and nano plastics could pose health threats to humans. Scientists have stated the possibility of ingestion and inhalation of plastics to cause inflammation (link to cancer), heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid, arthritis, cell toxicity, etc.
Note that the health impacts considered here are only from consumptive uses. The health impacts of plastics should be considered throughout their lifecycle, from the extraction of oil to its end life. As mentioned previously, there are no ingredient lists on plastics for consumers to be aware of their potential health effects, hence this may cause consumers to purchase plastic products without knowing the negative implications it could cost to their health. Rethink and restrain from using plastics.
Learn more about plastic and health from this publication titled Plastic & Health: The Hidden Costs of A Plastic Planet.www.ciel.org/plasticandhealth
 Alabi OA, Ologbonjaye KI, Awosolu O, Alalade OE (2019) Public and Environmental Health Effects of Plastic Wastes Disposal: A Review. J Toxicol Risk Assess 5:021. doi.org/10.23937/2572-4061.1510021
 Azoulay, D., Villa, P., Arellano, Y., Gordon, M., Moon, D., Miller, K., & Thompson, K. (2019). Plastic & Health, The Hidden Costs of A Plastic Planet. www.ciel.org/plasticandhealth
 Rustagi, N., Pradhan, S. K., & Singh, R. (2011). Public health impact of plastics: An overview. Indian Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 15(3). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3299092/