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Plastic is a threat to one’s health and well-being


Plastic pollution is one of the great environmental challenges of the 21st century, causing wide-ranging damage to ecosystems and human health. Courtesy of Greenpeace.

The adage about knowing who your friends are and recognizing your enemies is true as we start to identify an enemy in our lives. We have become so comfortable with this enemy that most do not see, smell, or acknowledge its presence. Most do not even identify it as an enemy because it is everywhere.

We produced two million tons of this enemy in 1950, 460 million tons in 2019, and it is expected that we will produce 1.380 billion tons by 2060. Its invasion of our lives and bodies continues.

It contains more than 10,000 chemicals, including carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. It is associated with widespread pollution worldwide, polluting fresh and salt waterways, the ground we play on, and the air we breathe.

It does not seem to matter whether you breathe the air in the city, the country, or even in the most remote areas of the world; there is an ever-increasing presence. It is invasive and persistent in its invasion, yet we allow this to happen.

Its ultimate home is the oceans. It has been found in all oceans and even in the ice caps at the ends of the world. Many of them resist decomposition and persist for decades. What is scarier is that it can jump from the environment and be present in animals, fish, and humans. We see it in the fish humans eat, which becomes measurable in the humans who consume them. They break down into micro and nano-size particles that invade the human body.

They enter the body primarily through inhalation or ingestion. If you store your food in them, it will leach into your food. If you heat your food in them, it will leach into your food. If you drink fluid out of them, it will invade your drink. Your toothpaste containers contain them. Your babies will ingest them as they drink milk from them.

By now, you have figured out what this invader is. It is plastic. It enters the body via the skin, respiratory system and ingestion.

They are not harmless, and the siren has long been sounded based on their potential to harm. That siren is now louder as we identify more and more negative impacts of plastic.

In a study, plastics have been found in 58 percent of the plaque that clogs up your arteries and may cause heart attacks and strokes. Its presence or non-presence is associated with death.

Plastic has been found in those with irritable bowel disease, and the more plastic found in the stool, the more harm from the irritable bowel disease.

We know that plastics influence the body’s responses, may interrupt normal mechanisms, and can cause harm and stress. Researchers are still working out this fact, but it is a fact.

A recent opening statement by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s global poly forum on plastics stated, “Plastic pollution is one of the great environmental challenges of the 21st century, causing wide-ranging damage to ecosystems and human health.”

Look at your environment. How can you make changes? Is that plastic container with liquid in it the best way to store things? No. Use glass or ceramic. Should you store and heat your food in plastic? No. Use ceramic or perhaps paper plates. Eliminating your world of plastic is difficult. Starting the process now will be suitable for everyone and the environment.

Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at