Thank-you so much for your help!
I need to have my essay peer reviewed for an assignment in my ENG 102 class. Also, I have three weaknesses that I am aware of and would also like your feedback on those if you don't mind in association with my essay. :)
1. I sometimes feel that I tend to be a bit biased in pushing my issue.
2. I think my paper could flow better. Am I being too hard on myself?
3. I question my MLA citations and works cited formatting. Am I doing it right?
Thank-you again for all of your help~
Nichole Kowalski.What Price: Plastic?
Mankind uses plastic for many purposes. It comes in many forms and textures. This breakthrough in technology has made the American way of life one of ease and convenience. From plastic ware and plates, to food packaging and car parts, plastic is involved with just about everything we can think of. There are probably many good things we can think about plastic, unfortunately, there are just as many, or more, bad things we should know about it too. My research question of "How worried should we be about plastic?" Will lead to research that will address the positive attributes, and negative issues associated with plastic that most consumers never even think about, for example, plastics impact on marine life and the oceans. And how it does not disintegrate, remaining for centuries in the ground releasing toxins into the soil impacting the environment. Perhaps it is more of a passing thought about the negative impact of plastic, but, perhaps consumers have become so accustomed to plastic in their lives that it would be a great inconvenience to do without it. The truth is, our conveniences of today where plastic is concerned, will serve to create a downfall for the future.
Plastic has become an economical staple in Americans lives. Whether we realize it or not we have become accustomed to using plastic and depend on it for the most part on a daily basis. At home it is used in the form of food storage bags, tupperware, bowls, plates, cups, plastic ware, shower curtains, dog kennels, laundry baskets, utility carts, hangers, toys, lotion bottles, shampoo bottles, swing sets, and trash receptacles. In the grocery stores plastic is used in the packaging of foods, such as water bottles, carbonated drink bottles, milk, creamers, yogurt's, pudding, bread, salad dressings, mayonnaise, ketchup, and meats, just to name a few.
Manufacturing plants that produce plastic and its components use engineering such as plastic injection mold machines in producing plastic goods, manufacturers like Coleman which is known for producing heavy duty coolers made of plastic. Manufacturing plants also produce auto parts and hospital equipment made from plastic. Mildly put, plastic is anywhere and everywhere. These uses for plastic provide ultimate convenience for consumers. It comes in many textures as well in providing convenience that comes at a hefty price. A price more costly than any monetary value. The cost is one of health. The monetary cost of using plastic is higher than that of either aluminum or glass, and its cost on human health is more than we should be willing to pay.
Looking at the creation of plastic, it is interesting to know that its composite base is made of crude oil. Other compounds are added to the crude oil in creating the various textures of plastic. These compounds are known as polymers, and these compounds represent the chemicals that pose potential health hazards, they consist of 55 thermoplastic and thermosetting polymers, and additionally contain monomers which have two classifications of being "mutagenic, and or, carcinogenic" or in causing mutations and or, cancer. These hazardous polymers are contained in the various types of plastics which are manufactured known as polyurethanes, polyacrylonitriles, polyvinyl chloride, epoxy resins, and styrenic copolymers, with the worst being phenol formaldehyde resins, unsaturated polyesters, polycarbonate, polymethyl methacrylate, and urea-formaldehyde resins (Lithner, 3309-3324).
One particular plastic made from polycarbonate contains an epoxy resin known as bisphenol A. This type of plastic is used for making plastic bottles, digital CD's and DVD's, construction and automobile parts, safety and medical equipment, and food packaging. Bisphenol A is readily identifiable in packaging as BPA. This polymer derivative is said to be consumed at 400 times below the amount the FDA deems acceptable which is at 0.05 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day (Polyplastics, 1). This tells consumers two things. One of which is that BPA is hazardous to health, and secondly that it is necessary to watch your daily intake of BPA per packaging to avoid toxic levels. There is controversy about the effects of BPA and safe levels of consumption. For example, another issue with polycarbonate plastic and its associative epoxy resin referred to as bisphenol A, is the effect on mothers who breastfeed. Lactating mothers consume BPA and it is passed onto their nursing infants. Studies in lab rats has shown that BPA altered the mammary gland development in female pups. With these findings it raises the probability that the same results are indicated for humans when consuming BPA through plastic containers or cans while pregnant or nursing. This exposure indicates the possibility that it can lead to breast cancer of infant girls. Although the studies have not been conducted on humans, it has been recommended that while pregnant or nursing it is a good idea to avoid eating or drinking foods which are packaged in plastic (Endocrinology, 26).
Plastic toxicity has been downplayed to consumers. The reality is that plastic has a toxic capacity due to its polymer components. The idea that there is a necessity in watching the levels which depict a toxic range in association with how much contact with plastic a consumer has, brings to mind a "warning" sign that infers it is hazardous to ones health. If this is so, taking the cons of plastic lightly is counterproductive to society as a whole. Plastic manufacturers make a lot of money producing plastic wares. Consumers take delight in the conveniences which plastic affords, however, this goes to show that the detrimental values of plastic are not provided in a capacity that informs consumers of the deadly repercussions of plastics use.
Although isolated studies have been performed on the levels of BPA in accordance with the average dietary intake of exposure, these studies fail to advise how BPA is excreted from the body, and or, at what speed. This leaves a gap in information as to the ability of BPA building up in the system to reach toxic levels. Which may explain the findings of other studies which show adverse effects of Bisphenol A in being attributable to various forms of cancer and mutations.
Lithner et al (2011), speaks about the dangers associated with plastics use. They explain plastics impact on marine life, and how plastics overall impact goes unnoticed by most consumers because of limited knowledge. The need to increase awareness is necessary in order to strengthen the measures that can be taken to increase safety. Knowledge will be imparted by breaking down the polymers to identify specific components and bring to light their impact on human health, the environment, and marine life. These authors feel that it is vitally important to address the plastics issue in deciding how to reduce the risks, or moreover how to phase out the use of plastics that pose these threats.
A study was performed to rank the hazardous classes and categorize them appropriately by using the EU classification and CLP regulation for labeling by creating a hazardous level model base of I-V, with I having the lowest impact and V having the highest. (Lithner, 3309-3324). These are based on the United Nations Global Harmony System. The initial assessments were made by taking the polymers and ranking them under monomer hazard classifications. The findings per classification were that the most hazardous of polymers are made of monomers. These are produced globally on a scale of one to thirty-seven million tons per year, and thirty-one out of fifty-five of the polymers contain monomers that rank as the most hazardous hitting the range on the hazardous model at IV and above. These extremely hazardous polymers are produced on a global scale with production being one to five million tons per year. They contain all of the worst toxins, the "phenol formaldehyde resins, unsaturated polyesters, polycarbonate, polymethyl methacrylate, and urea-formaldehyde resins" as aforementioned (Lithner, 3309-3324).
The impact of these substances on marine life are detrimental to our oceans and revert back to impact humanity once again in a cyclic effect that is continuous and growing. The ocean is being polluted by man made debris. This pollution stems from waste that has accumulated on land which ultimately finds its way to the ocean in the forms of "plastics and electronics" (Seaweb, 1). These two sources of waste make up 80 percent of the debri found in the ocean. The other twenty percent of pollutants in the ocean are derived from toxic chemicals which have cancer causing attributes, are responsible for developmental problems, and other health issues, coal burning that is used for energy consumption and makes up for fifty percent of America's energy source releases toxic mercury.
This ends up in the ocean, and in fish, and then we in turn, eat the mercury filled fish. Pharmaceuticals are flushed into the ocean by hospitals and nursing homes totaling millions of pounds each year. The oil from ships leaks into the ocean and is responsible for contributing over 706 million gallons a year (Seaweb, 1). And, fifty percent of carbon dioxide emitted from "our carbon emissions" is absorbed by the ocean and increasing its acidity. The toxicity from plastic is the biggest culprit. Fish are killed by the plastic by becoming ensnared, and or die from eating the plastic. Those that don't die, pass the toxicity onto humans who catch and eat the fish.
The ocean is a vital source to mans survival. Humans depend on it for "climate regulation, food, the economy, transportation, medicine, and recreation" (Seaweb, 1). The ocean is instrumental in regulating the climate as its dynamics impact how heat is transferred between the equator and the poles and it moderates carbon dioxide levels found in the atmosphere (Seaweb, 1).
For these reasons, the contaminants and debris which mankind keeps pouring into it comes back like a boomerang effect as man derives his basic needs from the ocean. The impact from the levels of mercury and PCB's are detrimental to human development, and contaminated water is responsible for over 3.5 million deaths globally from water-borne diseases and accumulated toxic chemicals on a yearly basis (Seaweb, 1).
Plastics have contaminated the ocean on a large scale. It comes in all shapes and sizes associated with various packaging of items used by consumers. Plastic food packages, styrofoam, wrappers, garbage bags, grocery bags, food storage containers and bags, auto parts, electronics, any and every component of plastic can be found in the ocean. The amount of plastics debri in the ocean is over twice the size of Texas, and probably bigger than that as it averages as much as 5 million square miles, and its growing. David Ferrer (2009) has given it the name of "Garbage Patch" and advises the area is like a big plastic soup. The sad truth that has been denied is that plastic never goes away, it takes decades to breakdown and once it does it simply dissolves into more toxic forms. Plastics ability to absorb toxins makes it even more deadly as these toxins are released into the environment.
Some of the plastic in the ocean is referred to as "nurdles." These nurdles are manufactured using different plastic components and polymers to be melted down in making the final product "The factory fixes a nurdle's DNA by brewing it into a particular type of plastic and then adding chemicals that make the final product hard or soft, elastic or rigid, colorful or colorless, ultraviolet- or shatter-resistant" (Ferris, 44-71). These nurdles eventually are the result of some 12.5 million tons of plastics that ends up in the ocean each year, whereupon they are consumed by sea birds and fish.
Plastic has entwined its way so deeply into the environment that it was reported in the Indian Ocean that hermit crabs, instead of living in shells, live in bottle caps. In Denmark the kittiwake nests are made of "drinking straws, plastic twine, and ear swabs" (Ferris, 44-71). In France there is a 600 foot trench that is filled with Evian bottles perfectly intact. Fur seals on Macquarie Island have been seen to "poop bits of yellow and blue," while sea turtles feed upon plastic bags, and sea birds are strangled by six pack rings. and albatross are starving while their stomachs are filled with "cigarette lighters and disposable forks, " as plastics refuse is responsible for killing over 100, 000 marine mammals, and one million birds every year (Ferris, 44-71).
Biologists have studied the compounds of plastics debri and found that they have the ability to absorb toxins like a sponge. The concentrations they absorb are a million more than the water that surrounds them. In Tokyo, nurdles there were found to have "loads of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB's) and the insecticide DDT," although both of these have been banned for the last thirty years (Ferris, 44-71). The toxins from nurdles after consumed by marine life, come to rest in their fatty tissues. This results in reproductive issues. It causes spur lesions and liver damage in humans, may cause cancer, and the DDT affects the mammals sex hormones and causes nerve damage. Tests performed on shearwater's who had consumed plastic, showed a three times increase of PCB's in their systems compared to shearwater's who didn't consume plastic (Ferris, 44-71).
David De Rothschild (2011), advises that the harm from the plastics pollution in the oceans is affecting the natural life cycles in every ecosystem in the entire world. The impact of the hazardous toxins associated with plastics in the ocean and the environment, its effect on the health of mankind, and marine life is not limited to any one part of the world. Its impact effects the whole world and all who inhabit it. There isn't any household on the globe, that has not come into contact with plastic. There isn't any part of the ocean that has not been affected by plastics. Plastics is worldwide and the dire truth is that every bit of plastic that has ever been made in the world is still here in one shape or another.
It is vitally important that a clean up of the oceans occurs, and that measures are taken in which to stop pollution of the ocean. Everything that goes down the drains whether it be a drain in a residential home, business, clinic, or hospital, the residuals find their way to the ocean. Safer ways of plastic production should also be sought. Especially in finding ways to produce plastic that disintegrates so that it doesn't accumulate and take over the world. Also, a way needs to be found to destroy existing plastic refuse, once it is collected from the oceans and land fills. Although consumers are under the impression that all plastic is recyclable, the truth is most of it is not renewable, and finds itself being melted down into small chips and disposed of in land fills. There are certain plastics however, that are recycled and made into such items as pool furniture, and kids swing sets. Once these items are discarded they become non-renewable and end up as plastic chips in the land fills. These plastics that end up in land fills in the shapes of plastic containers, plastic chips, plastic jugs, electronics, and other components will stay there for hundreds, if not, thousands of years.
Patty Moore (2012), in her opinion, feels that consumers need to be aware of the facts about recycling plastics. She feels that the coding system is misleading and adds to the disillusionment that all plastics are being recycled and therefore pose no threat to the environment. This leads consumers to believe that plastics are not littering and polluting the world, when indeed they are, and in massive quantities. Patty blames this on the RIC (Resin Identification Code) used by the Society of the Plastic Industries (SPI), who purposely codes plastics in a way that deters from the reality about which plastics are readily recycled versus those which aren't.
There is a growing concern that the RIC is misusing the coding system to mislead consumers worldwide (Moore, 49-52). Manufacturers would have consumers to believe that some plastics are biodegradable which couldn't be further from the truth. There isn't any plastic that is biodegradable. Currently there is no decomposition factors for plastic. The focus now is to find ways in which to adequately dispose of plastic in a realistic way which accomplishes the total destruction of plastics properties. The problem being faced is before a way to adequately dispose of plastics has been found, plastics has continued to monopolize and impact marine life, the oceans, and human health, yet, it continues to be produced on a large scale (Luoma, 92-93).
As consumers enjoy the conveniences which plastics afford them, it would appear that many do not comprehend the associative dangers, or perhaps the reality is that many are honestly not aware of the dangers presented by plastics. Plastics has become a way of life, virtually replacing glass and cans in the production of foods, and household cleaners. Most household goods are made of plastic. It almost seems as if everything is being made out of plastic. Cars, toys, furniture, plates, plastic ware, cups, trash bags, trash receptacles, dog houses, shoes, storage sheds, food containers, lunch bags, make up kits, toothbrushes, combs, brushes, toilet roll holders, electronics, laundry baskets, the handles of pots and pans, More must be done in which to inform consumers how dangerous using plastic is.
Food packages provide levels of BPA, but if a consumer is not knowledgeable as to what BPA is, they take this information in stride assuming that it can't be bad, or it wouldn't be on the grocery shelf for sale. Especially for consumer consumption. This in itself is misleading. If consumers were more informed about the hazards of plastics they may look differently at the source or cause of a diagnosis of cancer. Or of a child with a developmental delay, or that of a child born with a mutation. It would only be fair to inform consumers of the drawbacks associated with using plastics by putting these issues in a realistic light.
A great idea would be to put warning signs on plastic products like the kind on cigarette packages warning that "use of this plastic could be hazardous to your health." At least it would be a start in the right direction. Commercials could be made warning against plastics use like "Smokey the Bear" Which advises "Only you can prevent plastics pollution and contamination." Being forewarned would clearly help in being forearmed to make a positive difference. Consumers would not sit idly by and watch the world around them crumble, in leaving nothing for future generations. Which advises that not enough information about plastics is being provided openly to consumers by the manufacturers who produce it.
The world continues to turn and with it plastics continue to be produced. What is now known about the harmful nature of plastics is only the beginning. The hazards of plastic production, its detrimental impact on human health, the ocean, marine life, and the environment tell the true story of what plastics use is doing to the world. No matter how convenient it is to use plastic, its downside outweighs its economical use. Changes need to be made in finding adequate sources to replace plastic, or in finding ways to make plastic more user friendly to the world.
DE ROTHSCHILD, DAVID. "Message On A Bottle." Our Planet 22.1 (2011): 22-24. GreenFILE. Web. 20 Mar. 2012.
ENDOCRINOLOGY, MOLECULAR. "BPA And Breast Cancer." Fit Pregnancy 18.6 (2012): 26.
Ferris, David. "Message In A Bottle." Sierra 94.3 (2009): 44-71. GreenFILE. Web. 26 Mar. 2012.
Lithner, Delilah, Ĺke Larsson, and Göran Dave. "Environmental And Health Hazard Ranking And Assessment Of Plastic Polymers Based On Chemical Composition." Science Of The Total Environment 409.18 (2011): 3309-3324. GreenFILE. Web. 10 Mar. 2012.
Luoma, Jon R. "Are Biodegradable Plastics A Hoax?." Audubon 92.2 (1990): 92-93. GreenFILE. Web. 26 Mar. 2012.
Moore, Patty. "In My Opinion: We Need To Decode Plastics Recycling." Resource Recycling 31.3 (2012): 49-52. GreenFILE. Web. 19 Mar. 2012.
Polyplastics. "Polycarbonate Plastics and Bisphenol A Release." Bisphenol-a.org. 2006. Web. 10 Mar. 2012.
SeaWeb. "What the Ocean Does for our Planet and Us." Ocean and Human Health. 2012. Web.