Complexity of plastics make it impossible to know which are dangerous

phys.org | 5/16/2011 | Staff
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A lot of people worry about microplastics and plastic pollution, but not as many of us are aware of the large number of chemicals we encounter in plastic products that we use every day.

Researchers know of more than 4,000 chemicals that are currently used in plastic food packaging. But with more than 5,000 different types of plastic on the market, the number of chemicals used to make plastics is likely even larger.

Problem - Plastics - Chemical - Cocktail - Substances

"The problem is that plastics are made of a complex chemical cocktail, so we often don't know exactly what substances are in the products we use. For most of the thousands of chemicals, we have no way to tell whether they are safe or not," says Martin Wagner, a biologist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). "This is because, practically speaking, it's impossible to trace all of these compounds. And manufacturers may or may not know the ingredients of their products, but even if they know, they are not required to disclose this information."

Wagner specializes in the environmental and health impacts of plastics, and is the senior author of a new study on the toxicity and chemical composition in various plastic products.

Work - Part - PlastX - Research - Group

The work is part of the PlastX research group led by ISOE—the Institute for Social-Ecological Research Frankfurt and was carried out in collaboration with the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The article was recently published in Environmental Science and Technology.

"We studied eight types of plastics commonly used to make everyday products, such as yogurt cups and bath sponges, and examined their toxicity and chemical composition. Three out of four products contained toxic chemicals," Lisa Zimmermann, Wagner's colleague and first author of the study, says.

Researchers - Cell - Cultures - Effects - Mix

The researchers used cell cultures to investigate the effects of the mix of chemicals in each product. They found that...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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