Plastics and the Health of Children and Mothers

Plastics and the Health of Children and Mothers
Fonte: Psychology Today
Plastics enter the human body through skin, ingestion, and breathing dust.
Kyra Sarazen is co-author*

We live lives of convenience. We can buy and throw things away without much trouble. Fossil fuels power manufacturing and contribute to an enormous amount of plastic. Our throwaway lifestyle is considered a sign of progress. Is it?

It turns out that we are exposed to more chemicals than ever before in history, both in the air we breathe, water we drink and the products we use. Most of the tens of thousands of chemicals we’re exposed to are not regulated (see The Secret History of the War on Cancer). Some of these chemicals are endocrine disruptors, which means that they can enter our bodies and alter hormone activity, neurobiological development and overall wellbeing (Berger et al., 2015).

Here is one example. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is the third most widely produced plastic in the environment. We are constantly exposed to it inhalation of PVC dust, ingestion (in water and food) or through touch (entering the skin).

Two populations that are particularly at risk from plastic’s effects include children and pregnant women.

Children

From a developmental standpoint, we are born highly immature with many systems to be developed after birth. These include self-regulatory systems, such as the ability to regulate body temperature, metabolism, sleep cycles and heart rate. In order for our brains to develop these systems, we need attuned caregivers who keep us in optimal arousal while these systems complete themselves. Our early social and physical environments determine how effectively and efficiently these systems develop, making infancy a critical time in development. If the foundation for healthy brain development is not laid at an early age, there will be downstream effects that can impact the health and happiness of the child throughout life.

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