We are convening with environmentalists, scientists, & medical professionals.
UPSTREAM's goal with the Plastics & Health project is to harness the power of scientific evidence, communications, and advocacy regarding the health effects of plastics and packaging.
Against the backdrop of an industry pushing the introduction of cheap plastics into every aspect of modern production, the challenge of engaging consumers and producers in rethinking the use of plastic is enormous. This project is about expanding research and creating more engaging storytelling regarding the human health impacts of plastics. Knowledge of health risks of popular products can significantly change consumer attitudes and behavior. For example, in 1965, when cigarette makers were forced by U.S. federal legislation to include cancer warnings on packages, 43% of the public smoked. As of 2015, 15% smoke. Scientific evidence was essential to push back the tobacco lobby, achieve smoking bans, and establish new social norms.
The degradants of plastic consumer items micro and nano plastics are widespread. They are evident in the deep sea, Arctic ice, shellfish, honey, the ambient air, and drinking water. When plastic particles and their chemical additives enter the human body, it can cause illness. The chemical cocktails of plastics and plasticizers disrupt endocrine systems, damage brains, cause obesity, and alter development and reproduction. Exposure to plasticizers inutero can harm people for life and plastic particles can cause chronic inflammation in our bodies. Chronic inflammation is called the “silent killer” because it leads to diseases that touch every family such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, depression, arthritis, asthma and chronic fatigue syndrome.
The story of microplastic impacts on human health has not been told. This project will promote further scientific inquiry into human health impacts while creating foundational messaging and engagement in eschewing plastics for the benefit both of human health and the marine environment. By engaging scientific advisors to draft a Declaration of Concern, we will spread awareness across the globe about impacts of plastics in oceans, air, food, and drinking water and the disease burdens they produce.