Special Collection: Plastics and Human Health
Plastics are the signature material of our age. They have contributed to improvements in human health, extensions in longevity, and growth of the global economy and supported some of the most significant advances of modern civilization. It is now clear, though, that plastics’ benefits have come at a cost and that plastics have caused great harms to human health, the environment and the economy. These harms arise at every stage of the plastic life cycle. They extend far beyond such obvious damages as beach litter and contaminated mid-ocean gyres and include occupational cancers in plastic workers, childhood leukemia in ‘fenceline’ communities, endocrine disruption, and damage to the developing brains of newborn infants. They are associated with deep social injustices.
We have created this Special Collection on Plastics and Human Health to direct the attention of health workers, scientists, the press, civil society, and the global public to plastics’ large and largely neglected hazards and to inform the work of government leaders and international negotiators as they strive to fulfill the urgent call of the United Nations Environment Assembly to curb plastic pollution and mitigate its unsustainable impacts by negotiating a Global Plastics Treaty.