Tag Archives | Plastics

Weekly Poll Update: ‘What current issue is most important?’

Old Poll

Our first weekly poll was a relative success. In light of our soon-to-be released Boredom, we asked your opinions on one of the issues raised in the film. It seems the majority of you agree with director Albert Nerenberg’s conclusion. The results are below:

Are Smart Phones Making Us More Bored?

  • Yes (69%, 121 Votes)
  • No (31%, 54 Votes)

Total Voters: 175

Poll

New Poll

This week’s poll is comparatively longer: “What current issue is most important?” For each answer (except Immigration and Guns rights), we have a documentary that addresses said issue. I’ve linked them, if any of you are interested.

· Climate Change – Greedy Lying BastardsUnacceptable Levels, Into the Cold

· Overuse of chemicals and plastics – Tapped, Unacceptable Levels

· Education – Boredom, Equation of Life, Journey of the UniverseDrawing with Mark

· Disappearance of Bees – Bee People, Vanishing of the Bees

· NSA/Government Surveillance – War on Whistleblowers

· Corporate Corruption – Koch Brothers Exposed, Greedy Lying Bastards, Mobilize

· Immigration

· Economy (in general) – In Debt We Trust

· Military-industrial complex – Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars, Whittle: The Jet Pioneer, Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers

· Gun rights

· Gay rights – The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls

· Torture and Government Conspiracy – Doctors of the Dark Side

· Religion – American Jesus, Exorcist in the 21st Century

Another Shameless Plug: Since I’ve already shamelessly promoted a dozen or so of TDC’s films, I might as well do another plug about our new donate button.… Read the rest

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Infertility in Pigs Traced to Plastics. A Warning for Humans?

Oink oink! (2258903102)More Unacceptable Levels news: A scientist has connected infertility in pigs to compounds in plastic bags, warns National Geographic:

strange catastrophe struck Spain’s pig farmers in the spring of 2010. On 41 farms across the country—each home to between 800 and 3,000 pigs—many sows suddenly ceased bearing young.

On some farms, all the sows stopped reproducing. On others, those that did become pregnant produced smaller litters.

When investigators examined the sows and the semen that had been used to artificially inseminate them—it had been collected from different boar studs and refrigerated—they couldn’t find anything wrong. The sperm cells weren’t misshapen. None of the sows were diseased. No microbes or fungal toxins were detected in their feed or water.

Only one factor was common to all the farms and studs: The plastic bags used for semen storage all came from the same place.

Investigating those bags has led Cristina Nerín, an analytical chemist at the University of Zaragoza who studies packaging materials, to publish new research that traces the pigs’ infertility to chemical compounds in the plastics.

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Health Dangers of Plastics: BPA, Phthalate Exposure May Cause Fertility Problems

PlasticBottlesAnyone who saw the documentary Tapped knows that ingesting BPAs and phtalates is hazardous to your health. CNN reports on yet another study highlighting the risks, this one suggesting fertility problems:

If you’re having trouble getting pregnant or have suffered a miscarriage, some common household products may be partly to blame, new research suggests.

This week, scientists at the annual conference of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine in Boston are presenting research linking chemical compounds in our environment to fertility issues. In several different studies, researchers met with healthy couples who were trying to have a baby and tested them for BPA and phthalates.

BPA stands for Bisphenol A, a chemical used to make certain plastics and resins that are used in containers. BPA is also used in the coating of metal products, such as food cans, bottle tops and water supply lines, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

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Chemicals From Common Plastics Linked With Diabetes In Women

Consider going light on makeup? Causation has not been shown, but a strong correlative link has been found between diabetes and level of exposure to the phthalates that seep from synthetic household items, Scientific American reports:

Phthalates make plastics such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) more flexible, and they are added to some cosmetics, perfumes and other personal care products to stabilize colors and fragrances. A wide variety of household goods rely on phthalates, including vinyl flooring, adhesives and shower curtains. More than 75 percent of Americans have phthalates in their urine.

Until now, most phthalate research has focused on reproductive consequences because these compounds seem to disrupt male hormones. Boys exposed to phthalates in the womb had signs of feminized genitalia, which may lead to fertility problems. Researchers also have found neurological effects, including reduced IQs and attention problems in boys.

The new study examined diabetes and phthalate concentrations in 2,350 women who participated in a national survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2001 through 2008.

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The Mushroom That Eats Plastic

Mushroom 001Is this the answer to the ever-growing plastic scourge on our planet? From co.exist:

The Amazon is home to more species than almost anywhere else on earth. One of them, carried home recently by a group from Yale University, appears to be quite happy eating plastic in airless landfills.

The group of students, part of Yale’s annual Rainforest Expedition and Laboratory with molecular biochemistry professor Scott Strobel, ventured to the jungles of Ecuador. The mission was to allow “students to experience the scientific inquiry process in a comprehensive and creative way.” The group searched for plants, and then cultured the microorganisms within the plant tissue. As it turns out, they brought back a fungus new to science with a voracious appetite for a global waste problem: polyurethane.

The common plastic is used for everything from garden hoses to shoes and truck seats. Once it gets into the trash stream, it persists for generations.

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Exposure to BPA Before Birth Linked to Behavioral, Emotional Difficulties in Girls

RecyclablesVia ScienceDaily:

Exposure in the womb to bisphenol A (BPA) — a chemical used to make plastic containers and other consumer goods — is associated with behavior and emotional problems in young girls, according to a study led by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, and Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia.

BPA is found in many consumer products, including canned food linings, polycarbonate plastics, dental sealants, and some receipts made from thermal paper. Most people living in industrialized nations are exposed to BPA. BPA has been shown to interfere with normal development in animals and has been linked with cardiovascular disease and diabetes in people. In a 2009 study, HSPH researchers showed that drinking from polycarbonate bottles increased the level of urinary BPA.

In this study, published Oct. 24, 2011, in an advance online edition of Pediatrics, lead author Joe Braun, research fellow in environmental health at HSPH, and his colleagues found that gestational BPA exposure was associated with more behavioral problems at age 3, especially in girls.

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A Continent Made Of Plastics

Taken from a 1940 issue of Fortune, a rendering of a map of an imaginary future continent, ‘Synthetica’, composed of synthetic materials and plastic debris. This is our magical future. Via Strange Maps:

“On this broad but synthetic continent of plastics, the countries march right out of the natural world – that wild area of firs and rubber plantations, upper left – into the illimitable world of the molecule. It’s a world boxed only by the cardinal points of the chemical compass – carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen. Rayon is a plastic island off the Cellulose coast, with a glittering night life.”

plastic

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Styrene Plates, Cups Found To Cause Cancer

Styrene 3D Balls

Styrene 3D Balls

The only surprise here is that after years of delaying tactics by the plastics and chemical industries, the U.S. Government finally decided to tell its citizens that two very common compounds – styrene and formaldehyde – are carginogens. Rob Stein reports for the Washington Post:

Styrene, which is used to make those ubiquitous white foam coffee cups, food containers and many other products, is probably a human carcinogen, the federal government declared Friday.

The declaration came in the government’s latest update of its official list of known or possible carcinogens. It categorized for­mal­dehyde, a chemical widely used to make many products, and a family of substances found in some herbal remedies as known carcinogens.

Officials stressed that the listings do not mean that any exposure to the substances will cause cancer. Instead, it means that the latest scientific evidence indicates that the agents can cause cancer in some people exposed to enough of the compounds under the right circumstances.

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Pepsi Unveils Plastic Bottle Made Entirely From Plants

plasticPepsi is trumpeting its creation of a plastic bottle made entirely from plant matter. Great — now we’ll be filling our landfills with plastic forever, even after we run out of oil. Via Gizmodo:

Soda’s bad for you, but plastics—especially the petroleum-based PET plastics used widely for bottles—are bad for everyone. Thankfully, after millions of dollars and years of research, Pepsi thinks it’s cracked the code on a 100% plant-based PET bottle.

It looks…just like the old bottle. “It’s indistinguishable,” says Rocco Papalia, PepsiCo’s senior vice president of advanced research. But instead of drawing from our planet’s diminishing supply of petroleum, it’s made entirely from plant waste—currently switch grass, pine bark, corn husks and eventually incorporating orange peels, oat hulls, potato scraps and other materials leftover from its food business.

Pepsi’s going to test the bottle with a run of a few hundred thousand in 2012, and if all goes well they plan on converting all their products to the new bottles thereafter.

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Many More Plastics Found To Leach Chemicals

PlasticBottlesThe truth of the matter is, plastics are poisonous. Just giving up bottles of water and their BPAs is not nearly enough to avoid the health risks from plastic products, according to new research. Jon Hamilton has part of the story for NPR (and I say part, because estrogenic chemicals are only part of the problem):

Most plastic products, from sippy cups to food wraps, can release chemicals that act like the sex hormone estrogen, according to a study in Environmental Health Perspectives.

The study found these chemicals even in products that didn’t contain BPA, a compound in certain plastics that’s been widely criticized because it mimics estrogen.

But it’s still unclear whether people are being harmed by BPA or any other so-called estrogenic chemicals in plastics. Most studies of health effects have been done in mice and rats.

The new study doesn’t look at health risks. It simply asks whether common plastic products release estrogen-like chemicals other than BPA.

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