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Fight Plasticosis And Save Marine Life

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Life on Earth is in danger! Take the pledge to reduce microplastics, fight plasticosis and save our planet from this plastic scourge!

Microplastics are a growing threat to our planet's wildlife, and scientists have now described a new disease directly linked to plastic waste.

The disease, known as plasticosis1, has been identified in the digestive tracts of seabirds, such as flesh-footed shearwaters2, which are among the most plastic-contaminated birds in the world.

Plasticosis occurs when tiny plastic fragments become lodged in the birds' digestive tracts, leading to chronic inflammation and scarring that can cause a range of problems3. Exposure to microplastics can inflame and scar the first chamber of the birds' stomach, which can stunt the glands that secrete digestive compounds, affecting their vitamin absorption and making them more vulnerable to infection and parasites4. In extreme cases, chicks can starve to death because their stomachs become full of undigestible plastic. For those that survive, plasticosis seems to stunt their growth, and larger amounts of plastic were associated with smaller overall weight and shorter wings5.

This disease is likely not limited to just these birds, and scientists believe that other species may be affected.

Marine life is particularly vulnerable to microplastic pollution. Plastic fragments have been detected in the digestive tracts of fish and other marine organisms, leading to concerns about the potential impact on their health and the wider ecosystem6. Studies have shown that microplastics can cause physical damage to marine organisms, leading to reduced feeding and reproduction, and even death in extreme cases7. Ingested plastic can also release toxic chemicals into the body, which can accumulate in the food chain and pose a risk to human health8.

Whales and seals are also vulnerable to the impact of microplastics. Researchers have found that these marine mammals ingest plastic particles while feeding, which can cause damage to their digestive systems and lead to malnutrition9. In some cases, plastic ingestion can lead to fatal obstructions or entanglement. In addition to the physical damage caused by plastic ingestion, microplastics can also release toxic chemicals that can accumulate in the bodies of these animals and cause harm10.

Farm animals are also at risk from microplastic pollution, as plastic waste can contaminate their feed and water sources. Recent research has shown that microplastics can accumulate in the organs of farm animals, raising concerns about the potential impact on animal health and the safety of our food supply11. Ingested microplastics can also lead to reduced feed intake and weight gain in livestock, which can have economic implications for farmers12.

Humans are not immune to the impact of microplastic pollution, either. Studies have shown that microplastics can be found in tap water, bottled water, and even seafood13. While the long-term health effects of microplastic ingestion in humans are not yet fully understood, there is growing concern about the potential impact on our health. In addition to the risk of ingesting toxic chemicals released by microplastics, there are also concerns about the potential impact on our gut microbiome, which plays a crucial role in our overall health14.

The extent of the damage that microplastics cause is still being investigated, but one thing is clear: we need to take action to reduce our plastic waste and protect our planet's wildlife.

By working together and taking action to reduce our plastic waste, we can help prevent the spread of plasticosis and protect our planet's wildlife for generations to come. Take the pledge to fight plasticosis and take action for life on Earth!

More on this issue:

  1. Chris Melore, StudyFinds (6 March 2023), "What is plasticosis? New disease has a direct link to ingesting pollution."
  2. Rob Waugh, Yahoo! News (6 March 2023), "Seabirds are falling ill with a new disease from eating plastic and it could affect humans."
  3. Helena Horton, The Guardian (3 March 2023), "New disease caused by plastics discovered in seabirds."
  4. James Ashworth, Phys.org (3 March 2023), "Plasticosis: A new disease caused by plastic that is affecting seabirds."
  5. Erica Cirino, Audubon (21 December 2018), "Plastic Threatens Even Our Common Shorebirds, Study Warns."
  6. Subhankar Chatterjee and Shivika Sharma, Reinventing Plastics (2019), "Microplastics in our oceans and marine health."
  7. Cinzia Corinaldesi, Sara Canensi, Antonio Dell’Anno, Michael Tangherlini, Iole Di Capua, Stefano Varrella, Trevor J. Willis, Carlo Cerrano & Roberto Danovaro, Communications Biology (30 March 2021), "Multiple impacts of microplastics can threaten marine habitat-forming species."
  8. Dr. Sneha Kannan, iCliniq (25 February 2019), "Plastic Toxicity."
  9. NOAA Marine Debris Program (6 March 2023), "Ingestion."
  10. Leigh Shemitz, Paul Anastas, Yale Sustainability (1 December 2020), "Yale Experts Explain Microplastics."
  11. Damian Carrington, The Guardian (8 July 2022), "Microplastics detected in meat, milk and blood of farm animals."
  12. Karna Ramachandraiah, Kashif Ameer, Guihun Jiang, Geun-Pyo Hong, Science of The Total Environment (20 October 2022), "Micro- and nanoplastic contamination in livestock production: Entry pathways, potential effects and analytical challenges."
  13. Inga V. Kirstein, Alessio Gomiero, Jes Vollertsen, Current Opinion in Toxicology (December 2021), "Microplastic pollution in drinking water."
  14. Alba Tamargo, Natalia Molinero, Julián J. Reinosa, Victor Alcolea-Rodriguez, Raquel Portela, Miguel A. Bañares, Jose F. Fernández & M. Victoria Moreno-Arribas, Scientific Reports (11 January 2022), "PET microplastics affect human gut microbiota communities during simulated gastrointestinal digestion, first evidence of plausible polymer biodegradation during human digestion."
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The Pledge:

I pledge to take action to reduce my contribution to microplastics and help protect our planet and its inhabitants from the devastating effects of plastic waste. Specifically, I will take the following actions:

10. Reduce single-use plastics

I pledge to avoid buying single-use plastics like straws, plastic bags, and plastic utensils, and instead opt for reusable alternatives.

9. Properly dispose of plastic waste

I pledge to make sure to recycle any plastic waste I produce and dispose of it properly to ensure it doesn't end up in our waterways and oceans.

8. Avoid synthetic clothing

I pledge to reduce the amount of synthetic clothing I buy and wear, as these materials release microplastics when washed.

7. Use natural cleaning products

I pledge to switch to natural cleaning products that do not contain microplastics, such as baking soda, vinegar, and lemon.

6. Use a laundry bag or filter

I pledge to use a laundry bag or filter specifically designed to capture microfibers and prevent them from entering the water system when washing my clothes.

5. Avoid products with microbeads

I pledge to avoid buying products with microbeads, which are small plastic beads commonly found in exfoliating scrubs and toothpaste.

4. Choose products with sustainable packaging

I pledge to choose products with sustainable packaging, such as glass or cardboard, over those packaged in plastic.

3. Hold companies accountable

I pledge to hold companies accountable for their plastic use and production, and support those that prioritize sustainable practices.

2. Educate myself and others

I pledge to continue to educate myself and others on the issue of plastic pollution and microplastics, and encourage others to take action to reduce their own contributions.

1. Support plastic-free initiatives

I pledge to support initiatives and organizations that work towards reducing plastic pollution and promoting sustainable alternatives.

Project Peril, a program of Greater Good Charities, is dedicated to the conservation of our earth’s oceans and marine life by supporting beach and ocean cleanups, educating the public about waste-prevention activities including finding alternatives to plastic, supporting conservationists who are identifying marine life habits and diseases to aid in their long-term protecting and survival, and much more. Support for this program helps with trash cleanups and the greater conservation effort.

By taking these 10 steps, I am committing to reducing my own contribution to microplastics and fighting against the harmful effects of "plasticosis" on our environment and its inhabitants.

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