[Pharmwaste] Drowning in Plastic

DeBiasi,Deborah dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov
Thu Jun 14 13:54:34 EDT 2007

Drowning in Plastic 
Every bit of plastic ever made is still with us-and it's wreaking havoc on the ocean. Jun 14, 2007 
By Kera Abraham


An excerpt:

"It's not just entanglement and indigestion that are problems caused by plastic debris,
however. There is a darker side to pollution of the ocean by ubiquitous plastic fragments.
As these fragments float around , they accumulate the poisons we manufacture for
various purposes that are not water-soluble. It turns out that plastic polymers are sponges
for DDT, PCBs and nonylphenols -oily toxics that don't dissolve in seawater. Plastic
pellets have been found to accumulate up to one million times the level of these poisons
that are floating in the water itself. These are not like heavy metal poisons which affect
the animal that ingests them directly. Rather, they are what might be called "second
generation " toxics. Animals have evolved receptors for elaborate organic molecules
called hormones, which regulate brain activity and reproduction. Hormone receptors
cannot distinguish these toxics from the natural estrogenic hormone, estradiol, and when
the pollutants dock at these receptors instead of the natural hormone, they have been
shown to have a number of negative effects in everything from birds and fish to humans.
The whole issue of hormone disruption is becoming one of, if not the biggest
environmental issue of the 21st Century. Hormone disruption has been implicated in
lower sperm counts and higher ratios of females to males in both humans and animals.
Unchecked, this trend is a dead end for any species."

Deborah L. DeBiasi
Email:   dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov
WEB site address:  www.deq.virginia.gov
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
Office of Water Permit Programs
Industrial Pretreatment/Toxics Management Program
Mail:          P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA  23218 (NEW!)
Location:  629 E. Main Street, Richmond, VA  23219
PH:         804-698-4028
FAX:      804-698-4032

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