Scary facts and figures about plastics in our bodies and in the environment.

This page lists some of the scarier facts and figures relating to plastics, toxicity and specific chemicals found in household plastics, like BPA and phthalates.

As I come across more of these statistics, I will add them to the page.

2 million plastic bottles – used in the US every 5 minutes.

plastic bottles trash

This photo depicts the number of plastic bottles used in the US every five minutes. 2 million. That’s an astounding number, particularly when you consider that most of them won’t be recycled.

Putting aside the volume of trash created, consider the environmental impact of the manufacture and distribution of these bottles. Consider the volume of toxic chemicals that go into these bottles.

And imagine what just one day’s worth of plastic bottles would look like. 2 million bottles every five minutes equals 576,000,000 bottles every day. And that’s just one day.

You can see this photo at its full size, and other photos like it, here...

Humans currently produce 260 million tons of plastic a year.

When those products are pulled into the sea's currents, the plastics do not biodegrade but are broken into smaller pieces which are consumed by marine life at the bottom of the food chain. An examination of gastrointestinal obstruction in a green turtle found off Florida discovered that, over the course of a month, the animal's faeces had contained 74 foreign objects, including "four types of latex balloons, different types of hard plastic, a piece of carpet-like material and two 2-4mm tar balls.

12,000 new substances are being registered with the American Chemical Society daily.

Writing in a letter in the journal Science, eight societies from the fields of genetics, reproductive medicine, endocrinology, developmental biology and others note that some 12,000 new substances are being registered with the American Chemical Society daily.

Few make it into the environment, but the top federal regulators, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, often lack information about the hazards of chemicals produced in high volumes.

In other words, thousands of chemicals are released into the world, within everyday products, and almost none of them have been tested for their impact on our health.

91% of Canadians have BPA in their bodies.

In a recent study it was shown that 91% of Canadians have measurable levels of the chemical BPA in their bodies.

Compared with children aged six to 11, those aged 12 to 19 had a slightly higher concentration, while those aged 40 to 79 had lower concentrations, Statistics Canada said.

The study went on to say that these figures suggest that we are exposed to BPA on a regular basis. Not good for us. And even worse for our children.

(See further down the page for an American study that puts this figure at 93%.)

One million dead birds.

According to Greenpeace, more than 1 million birds and 100,000 marine mammals are estimated to perish each year by either eating or becoming trapped in plastic waste.

An ocean garbage dump of plastic the size of Texas.

According to greatgarbagepatch.org, “The largest of these garbage swills is known as the Pacific Gyre, or The Great Garbage Patch. It is roughly the size of Texas, containing approximately 3.5 million tons of trash. Shoes, toys, bags, pacifiers, wrappers, toothbrushes, and bottles too numerous to count are only part of what can be found in this accidental dump floating midway between Hawaii and San Francisco.”

500 billion plastic bags.

Each year the world goes through some 500 Billion plastic bags. Of that, WorldWatch Institute estimates that about 100 Billion are used and discarded in the US alone, at the cost of 12 million barrels of oil.

6 billion pounds of BPA produced annually.

According to Enviroblog.org, “An estimated 6 billion pounds of BPA are produced globally annually, generating about $6 billion in sales. In addition to food containers, BPA is an additive in many other consumer products, some like plastic water pipes and municipal water storage tanks may also leach BPA directly into the drinking water. Let us also consider the other side of BPA lifecycle: What happens to those 6 billion pounds every year once they are released into the environment? They do not just disappear; on the contrary, BPA accumulates in the freshwater and marine environment, where it could damage wildlife reproduction.”

93% of us have BPA in our bodies.

Doesn’t matter if you live in hut on a mountain, or whether you eat organic foods, or drink purified water; you almost certainly have BPA in your body. There is just no avoiding it.

In a 2003-2004 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, nearly 93 percent of the people tested, age six and above, had detectable bisphenol A in their urine; females had slightly higher levels than males.

It’s out there. It’s in you. And it does harm.

Further reading:

Bad plastics...

Safe plastics...

Alternatives to plastics...




New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.