How does plastic affect human and animal health?

How does plastic affect human and animal health?

Plastic is so present in our lives that sometimes we are not even aware of it. It’s in the food we eat, in cosmetics, and in the air we breathe. Its impact on human health, animals and the planet was discussed this Tuesday by experts at the University of Almería within the framework of the Technical Conference on the Impact and Management of Plastic Waste in Almería, organized by Ecologists in Action STOP LEGAL SPILLS. In collaboration with the UAL Vice-Chancellor of Sports, Sustainability and Healthy University.

At the inauguration, vice-chancellor Javier Lozano explained that it was “a day featuring talks by experts and an exhibit on spills to try to minimize or eliminate the toxic spills produced by plastic in our city. When Ecoologists in Action recommended this conference to us, we understood that it was very important for the University and that the Vice-Chancellor should support them. In addition, the event is within the scope of the Sustainable Development Goals in terms of both recycling and citizen awareness, and we are very pleased with the response it received from the participants.



From 09.00 to 14.00, experts in their fields participated by giving information about the effects of plastic in our lives and how to minimize its effects. The first part of the day was Nicolás Olea, professor at the University of Granada Medical Faculty and specialist doctor at Granada Clinical Hospital. “We know very little about the physical impact of plastics, namely the plastic parts that we already know as micro and nanoplastics. Now we have the first information that they are present in the intestines, placenta, milk, blood… We have descriptive studies of their existence, but the effects of these microscopic pieces of plastic are very “In addition, there is considerable suspicion that microplastics are carriers of microbes, called plastifera, and they contribute to the colonization of new microbes that affect the alteration of the intestinal flora. This may be linked to the presence of microbiological contaminants in these plastics.”

There are three ways plastic can reach our bodies. The first is the digestive tract, which is “most important” through pollutants in water and pollutants in food. They are found in the food we eat, in many plastic containers that come with food. If the pieces are large enough, they are excreted, but if they are smaller, they can be absorbed through the intestinal wall. The second way is respiration. “We now know that the biggest source of microplastic pollutants in the air is tire wear on the roads.” And finally, the third way is skin. “Designer microplastics are used in cosmetics, toothpastes have replaced oatmeal and minerals with abrasive microplastics, which are also found in some night creams.”

Sergio López Martínez is the other expert to join this first episode. He works at the University of Almería and collaborates with the Center for Scientific Collections of the University of Almería (CECOUAL). “My work focuses on how plastics, microplastics and macroplastics affect the marine food chain and the amounts found at different trophic levels of the marine web, as well as the distributions of these pollutants in Almería compared to another population at sea level. Mediterrenian. It is one of the most polluted seas next to the Pacific Ocean and has more plastic accumulation in its easternmost part. At UAL they studied fish, turtles and marine mammals and will now start with seabirds and crabs. “Microplastics were found in all of them, and macroplastics in 100% of the turtles.”

Representatives of the agricultural sector in Almeria participated in the second part. As a result, a roundtable meeting was held under the title of ‘Searching for Solutions’ with the participation of all speakers. During the day, the photographic exhibition ‘SOS Almería, Huertedero de Europa’ by Manuel Mata Oliver (Manuma) and Gianella D’Alessandro was displayed. The exhibition consists of 44 photographs taken in Almería from the extraordinary torrential rains of 2019 to date, relating to plastics in Nature and uncontrolled dumps.

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