It’s encouraging to see that plastic pollution in oceans and environment has become quite a talked about topic. But an issue that is often overlooked is the toxic chemicals that can be found in plastic, and how they harm our health.
Here is the story about the hidden chemicals in plastic toys.
In 2018, HEAL together with colleagues from Arnika and IPEN tested over 500 toys made of recycled plastic. We found that many of these toys contained brominated flame retardants coming from electronic waste. These chemicals are known to affect thyroid function in children, resulting in disrupted brain development and attention deficits.
It seems only logical that the toys that our children play with do not contain toxic chemicals. Sadly, the reality is quite different: 10% of the toys and other plastic products we tested contained these brominated flame retardants, highly toxic chemicals that are banned in the EU.
This is only the tip of the iceberg.
Firstly, our daily exposure to low doses of chemicals in virgin or recycled plastics has a long-term effect on our health. Studies show that the chemical additives used in plastics, many of them hormone disrupting chemicals, are linked to serious diseases and health conditions including infertility, obesity, diabetes, breast and prostate cancer.
Secondly, the laws currently in place are too weak to solve the problem. For many years, the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) has been advocating for European and national decision-makers to make environmental laws that protect and promote our health. Decision-makers need to recognise that chemicals do affect our health, and build laws and regulation to prevent exactly that.
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