A federal study focused on "human biomonitoring" published in Der Spiegel, the German weekly magazine, has found that many children between the ages of 3 and 17 have alarmingly high levels of plastic in their bodies.
The study was commissioned by the German Environment Ministry and the Robert Koch Institute, and measured the amount of plastic byproducts in urine samples of 2,500 children between 2014 and 2017. An alarming 97% of the samples tested positive for plastic byproducts, and traces of 11 out of 15 plastic ingredients were detected.
Outcomes of the study show that our bodies mimic our environment. As plastic production increases, chemicals also show up at an increasing rate in the body. Of particular concern are the high levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) that were found in the study.
PFOA is an extremely toxic chemical found in non-stick cookware, waterproof clothing, fire-fighting foams, stain-resistant carpets, ski wax, and some paper and cardboard packaging. The chemical causes damage to the reproductive system and is toxic to the liver. Children are more susceptible to the toxicity of PFOA's as this chemical is persistent and has bioaccumulative properties. Twenty percent of the children revealed PFOA levels higher than what is considered safe.
Pending is a EU ban on PFOA, planned to take effect in 2020 however it remains clear that more vigilance is needed to prevent unnecessary exposure to plastic chemicals. Enhanced government oversight as well as increased household oversight will be required to reduce toxic plastic exposure.
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