A panel of prominent scientists and the Minderoo Foundation are out with a new report urging the global plastics treaty talks to set tough benchmarks for health testing of chemicals in plastics, similar to standards used in the pharmaceutical industry.
The March 21 report also put numbers behind what it said were premature deaths, heart disease or other health problems attributed to exposure to plastics additives including DEHP, PBDE and bisphenol A. The report estimated, for example, that in 2013 there were 90,000 premature U.S. deaths of people 55 to 64 years old attributable to di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, or DEHP, exposure.
"Plastics is a health issue; it's not just a waste issue, with hazards across the life cycle," said Sarah Dunlop, head of plastics and human health at the Minderoo Foundation. "The aim of this commission is to expose the harmful individual chemicals and the chemical-laden microplastics and demand accountability.
"We show that plastics production is rocketing upwards, and we need to get to the source of the problem, which is why we're proposing a cap on plastic made from fossil fuels," she said at a March 21 online launch ceremony.
The massive 223-page report, prepared by the Minderoo-Monaco Commission on Plastics and Human Health, said its strongest recommendations are for the United Nations treaty to fully consider the health impacts of plastics.
The plastics industry responded by saying the report is making irresponsible scientific interpretations.