skip to Main Content
| SUBSCRIBE | BECOME A MEMBER | JOBS

Turning the plastic tide: New HEAL report puts the spotlight on how chemicals in plastic are putting our health at risk

    The production, use and recycling of plastics are not only the source of significant pollution of our environment, but they also have consequences for our health. Today the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) releases the primer ‘Turning the Plastic Tide’, aiming to shine a light on a rarely explored perspective to plastic pollution: the undeniable link between the synthetic chemicals used in plastics and their effects on our health.

    ‘Turning the Plastic Tide’ introduces readers to health concerns over our exposure to the chemicals coming at play throughout the entire lifecycle of plastics. It unwraps the grave challenge that the chemicals constituents involved at every stage – monomers, additives – pose to achieve a clean and healthy circular economy. The report also highlights the need for a broad definition of plastics that allows one to define the full scale of plastic contamination, including the all-pervasive problem of microplastics.

    Exposure to chemicals used in plastics, like flame retardants, endocrine disruptors, PFAS, bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates has been associated with a myriad of potential health impacts. For example, health concerns related to endocrine disruptors include reproductive disorders, development dysfunction, behavioural disorders, thyroid problems, low birth weight, diabetes and obesity, asthma, breast and prostate cancers.

    Stronger regulations for Europe-wide solutions and better health

    HEAL’s new primer is being launched at a crucial time for the delivery of Europe’s promises towards bettering future European legislation on chemicals and reaching the zero-pollution ambition. The release of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, a key component of the European Green Deal, is expected in the autumn of 2020. If well crafted, this could be the most transformative chemical policy initiative at European level since REACH was launched in 2006.

    Solving the environmental pollution and health impacts of plastics is only possible by acknowledging that the problems of plastics are inextricably linked to chemical safety. Effective protection of health and environment will require stronger, more efficient and protective EU-wide regulations on chemicals and articles in which they are used. And those regulations need to encompass the entire lifecycle of plastics if they are to truly contribute to the transition to a non-toxic circular economy.

    Our recommendations for regulators to turn the plastic tide include:

    1. Protect and be consistent
    • No substance of very high concern (SVHC) should ever make its way into consumer products or food.
    • It is high time to crack down on plastics additives.
    • Rather than treating substances one by one, we must start regulating substances in groups. The reality of our exposure to mixtures, which is particularly relevant when addressing plastics, must be taken into account in chemicals assessments and regulations.
    • Regulations on recycled materials should be the same as for virgin materials.
    1. Anticipate and communicate
    • Implement essential EU principles such as the precautionary principle in cases of scientific uncertainties and the polluter-pays principle. Do not let substances that are not proven safe enter the market.
    • Avoid contaminating the future: do not allow recycling of plastics with hazardous additives and components.
    • Safe substitution must be anticipated and put more focus on in regulatory processes in order to avoid regrettable replacements, when a substance or group of substance are being restricted.
    • Ensure full transparency on chemical content throughout the supply chain and towards consumers.

    Plastique : Inverser La Tendance 

    Les substances chimiques dans les plastiques qui mettent notre santé en peril.

    [Download]

    Die Plastikflut Stoppen

    Gesundheitsschädliche Chemikalien in Plastik

    [Download]

    Invertire Il Trend Della Plastica

    Le sostanze chimiche presenti nella plastica che mettono a rischio la nostra salute.

    [Download]

    Invertir La Tendencia De Los Plásticos

    Sustancias químicas del plástico que perjudican la salud.

    [Download]

    READ MORE

    New science commentary: How fossil fuel-derived pesticides and plastics harm health, biodiversity, and the climate

    A new commentary published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology shows how three global health threats - chemical pollution (including endocrine disrupting chemicals), loss of biodiversity and climate change - are more strongly interlinked than previously thought by their common origins in fossil fuels such as coal, oil, or gas, including that derived from fracking.
    READ MORE

    New scientific study highlights non-monotonic dose-response curves and low-dose effects of bisphenol A

    A new scientific study, undertaken as part of the US CLARITY-BPA project, developed a quantitative assessment of the effects of bisphenol A (BPA) exposure on mammary gland development and found a consistent pattern of non-monotonic dose response relationships [2] on a set of over 90 measurements. This demonstrates a causal relationship between exposure to BPA and the health effects observed.
    READ MORE

    International scientists sound alarm bell over harmful chemicals coming in contact with our food

    An international group of 33 world-renowned scientists published today a peer-reviewed consensus statement on the impact of food contact chemicals on human health and recommended improvements of the assessment of chemicals in a health-protective way. Civil society groups from Europe, the U.S. and Asia have issued a declaration of concern in response to this consensus statement, calling on regulators to upgrade regulatory frameworks in order to protect public health while ensuring a transition away from single-use towards safe and reusable food packaging..
    READ MORE

    MEPs block EU Commission proposal that would allow toxic lead in recycled PVC

    Members of the European Parliament today objected to a European Commission proposal to allow lead-contaminated recycled PVC to be sold in the EU. The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), ClientEarth and the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) have applauded MEPs for using their power of scrutiny in order to ask the European Commission to walk the talk and keep toxics out of the circular economy, a promise outlined in the European Green Deal.
    READ MORE

    Forever chemicals no more: Belgian premiere of Hollywood movie “Dark Waters” highlights reality of PFAS pollution and the urgency to address it through ambitious regulation

    Award-winning actor Mark Ruffalo and director Todd Haynes are visiting the European Parliament this Wednesday (5 February) to present the film ‘Dark Waters’, inspired by the true story of an environmental attorney who took on the DuPont company in an environmental suit exposing decades of pollution of drinking water with PFAS. The movie shows the harsh consequences of chemicals pollution, which is a reality in the EU too, and should urgently be addressed as a chemical priority under the European Green Deal.
    READ MORE