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Dangerous Chemicals From E-Waste Found in Black Plastics From Toys to Drink Stirrers
Recycling is often touted as a universal environmental good, but a new study from the University of Plymouth found that improper recycling of electronic waste means that dangerous chemicals are finding their way into black plastics used in consumer goods, with potentially negative consequences for human health and marine life.
"There are environmental and health impacts arising from the production and use of plastics in general, but black plastics pose greater risks and hazards," study author Dr. Andrew Turner said in a University of Plymouth press release.
Those risks come because, while black plastics make up 15 percent of domestic plastic waste, they are difficult to recycle effectively. Because of this, plastic casings from recycled electronics are used to manufacture new black plastic products. The chemicals used as flame retardants or pigments for the electronic goods then make their way into consumer goods that use black plastic.
"Black plastic may be aesthetically pleasing, but this study confirms that the recycling of plastic from electronic waste is introducing harmful chemicals into consumer products. That is something the public would obviously not expect, or wish, to see and there has previously been very little research exploring this," Turner said.
Since the majority of black plastic is used as food packaging or trays, the study has frightening implications for human health. It also raises concerns about what happens when the contaminated black plastics make their way into the oceans as whole pieces of plastic pollution or broken-down microplastics.
According to the study's abstract, the chemicals found in black plastic litter on beaches in southwest England were similar to the ones found in black plastic consumer goods and recycled electronic waste.
One of the chemicals turned up by the study, bromine, is often used in electronic plastics as a flame retardant. A 2014 study published in Chemosphere found that bromine flame retardant exposure in children could be linked with cancer, diabetes, developmental disorders, reproductive issues and changes in thyroid function, but that more research needed to be done to confirm human health impacts. Turner found bromine in plastic jewelry, garden hoses, Christmas decorations, drink stirrers, coat hangers and tool handles at levels potentially illegal even in electronic goods.
Lead, which poses well-documented health risks, is also often found in electronic goods, and Turner recorded it at illegal levels in toys, office supplies and storage containers.
As a result of his findings, Turner called for further research and the development of new recycling techniques.
"[T]here is also a need for increased innovation within the recycling industry to ensure harmful substances are eliminated from recycled waste and to increase the recycling of black plastic consumer products," he said.
- Black plastic recycling confusion - YouTube ›
- Recycling is taking back plastic | Feature | Chemistry World ›
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‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.