Infection Prevention, Planetary Health, and Single-Use Plastics

Article: Infection Prevention, Planetary Health, and Single-Use Plastics

Authors: Matthew Smith, Hardeep Singh, Jodi D Sherman

Journal: JAMA. 2023 Oct 2. doi: 10.1001/jama.2023.20550

The Minderoo-Monaco Commission on Plastics and Human Health recently highlighted how plastics have benefited society but are responsible for significant harms to environmental and human health. For instance, 98% of plastics are derived from fossil carbon, contributing 3.7% of climate change–causing greenhouse gas emissions and similar fractions of toxic air emissions. Fossil carbon–based plastics do not biodegrade but rather break down into microparticles and nanoparticles that enter organisms through food chains and the hydrologic cycle. Plastics are laden with harmful chemical additives, many of which act as carcinogens, neurotoxins, and endocrine disrupters, persistent organic pollutants capable of harming current and future generations. Human exposures occur during every life cycle phase of plastic, including natural resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation, use, and disposal to the environment. A United Nations (UN) Global Plastics Treaty to end plastics pollution is expected by 2024.

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