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Thread: Plastic bags are killing us

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    Plastic bags are killing us

    The most ubiquitous consumer item on Earth, the lowly plastic bag is an environmental scourge like none other, sapping the life out of our oceans and thwarting our attempts to recycle it.

    On a foggy Tuesday morning, kids out of school for summer break are learning to sail on the waters of Lake Merritt. A great egret hunts for fish, while dozens of cormorants perch, drying their wings. But we're not here to bird-watch or go boating. Twice a week volunteers with the Lake Merritt Institute gather on these shores of the nation's oldest national wildlife refuge to fish trash out of the water, and one of their prime targets is plastic bags. Armed with gloves and nets with long handles, like the kind you'd use to fish leaves out of a backyard swimming pool, we take to the shores to seek our watery prey.

    Dr. Richard Bailey, executive director of the institute, is most concerned about the bags that get waterlogged and sink to the bottom. "We have a lot of animals that live on the bottom: shrimp, shellfish, sponges," he says. "It's like you're eating at your dinner table and somebody comes along and throws a plastic tarp over your dinner table and you."


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    People often underestimate the devastating effects of plastics. More than 150 studies have found health effects in animals exposed to low doses.

    BPA, one of the highest-volume chemicals in the world, causes prostate cancer in mice and rats. BPA made rodents fat. Their insulin output surged wildly and then crashed into a state of resistance—the virtual definition of diabetes. They produced bigger fat cells, and more of them.

    It’s used in water containers, sports bottles, Tupperware, etc. Keep them away from your babies. This material is used in all polycarbonate plastic baby bottles. Whatever you do don’t put in the microwave. That makes it worse. Some nations have even outlawed microwaves.

    It could be causing reproductive diseases in women, including fibroids, endometriosis, cystic ovaries and cancers. Prenatal exposure can cause irreversible damage in an unborn baby’s reproductive organs.

    PBDE, a chemical additive used to make plastic soft and pliable, causes liver and thyroid toxicity, reproductive problems, and memory loss in preliminary animal studies.

    Only 3-5% of plastics are ever recycled. In 2005, at least 120 billion pounds (54.4 billion kilograms) of plastic resin was produced in the U.S. Is it possible in the future that so many plastic poisons will be produced to an extent that our genetic structure will be destructed, and we won’t be able to reproduce?


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