Plastic with that Ma’am? by Susan Grimsdell

We’re all horrified by pictures of birds and other sea creatures with plastic filling their stomachs, and seeing videos of them innocently feeding plastic to their infants.  It’s too ghastly to think about?

Plastic in humans

Well, what about newborn human babies with plastic particles in their bodily organs – hearts, brains, lungs, liver, kidneys? Recent research has found tiny plastic nanoparticles in human placentas which pass through to the foetus and contaminate all those vital organs. 

Tiny plastic particles from placentas

The original research was done at the prestigious Rutgers University in the USA, on pregnant rats.  When they were exposed to plastic particles by breathing them in, the particles migrated through the lungs into the placenta, and from there into the foetus.  The evidence is that this happens in the same way in humans. The researcher, Professor Phoebe Stapleton, said, “We found the nanoparticles everywhere we looked”.  Some of the particulate matter came from diesel emissions as well as from synthetic fibres and other sources of plastic. 

Research in Auckland has measured 10 to 20 particulates per square metre of surface area.  They are in the air and we are breathing them in. We are aware that our way of life is almost certainly causing irreversible harm to the planet we live on, but harm such as Dr Stapleton and other scientists have discovered, falls under the radar.  I wonder what other effects on our children and ourselves we don’t yet know about.

Profit before health

Foetus fed through placenta

Knowledge should bring power, but, in fact, knowing what’s happening will change nothing because we are up against our culture’s remorseless reach for profit, at the expense of everything that really matters – health and life itself.  Corporations hand over millions of dollars to buy people running for office who, once they are elected,  do the will of the corporations, setting aside their duty to the ordinary people they supposedly represent. For example, in the three years following the Paris agreement, the five largest U.S. oil and gas companies spent $200 million a year to block, delay and otherwise thwart policies that tried to tackle climate change.

In the end we are the ones paying the price, and so do our infants, born with bits of plastic in their hearts, brains, lungs and kidneys.  Too ghastly for words.

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