If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.



Researchers are examining plastic’s many hazards to human health

by Cheryl Hogue
September 9, 2022 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 100, Issue 32

A fire burns a pile of discarded plastic bottles and plastic shoes.
Credit: Shutterstock
Hazards from the burning of plastic are among the issues researchers are analyzing as they consider the material's impact on human health.

A panel of researchers is comprehensively analyzing the multiple hazards that plastic poses to human health throughout the material’s life cycle. The study is examining the human health effects from fossil fuel extraction for use as plastic feedstocks, everyday use and disposal of plastic, and plastic pollution, the researchers say in a paper (Ann. Global Health 2022, DOI:10.5334/aogh.3916). They are studying the health impacts of plastic additives, microplastics, and air pollution from the burning of plastics. The researchers intend to release a report on their work in March 2023. It will include science-based recommendations to prevent plastic-related disease and premature death and to incorporate the costs of such health problems into the price of plastic. According to the paper, the researchers envision a future in which the essential uses of plastic are preserved while wasteful single-use and short-lived plastics are replaced with more sustainable alternatives. The work is funded by the Minderoo Foundation of Australia, the Monaco Scientific Center, and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.


This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.