Document Detail

Plastics and environmental health: the road ahead.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  23337043     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Plastics continue to benefit society in innumerable ways, even though recent public focus on plastics has centered mostly on human health and environmental concerns, including their endocrine-disrupting properties and the long-term pollution they represent. The benefits of plastics are particularly apparent in medicine and public health. Plastics are versatile, cost-effective, require less energy to produce than alternative materials like metal or glass, and can be manufactured to have many different properties. Due to these characteristics, polymers are used in diverse health applications like disposable syringes and intravenous bags, sterile packaging for medical instruments as well as in joint replacements, tissue engineering, etc. However, not all current uses of plastics are prudent and sustainable, as illustrated by the widespread, unwanted human exposure to endocrine-disrupting bisphenol A (BPA) and di-(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP), problems arising from the large quantities of plastic being disposed of, and depletion of non-renewable petroleum resources as a result of the ever-increasing mass production of plastic consumer articles. Using the health-care sector as example, this review concentrates on the benefits and downsides of plastics and identifies opportunities to change the composition and disposal practices of these invaluable polymers for a more sustainable future consumption. It highlights ongoing efforts to phase out DEHP and BPA in the health-care and food industry and discusses biodegradable options for plastic packaging, opportunities for reducing plastic medical waste, and recycling in medical facilities in the quest to reap a maximum of benefits from polymers without compromising human health or the environment in the process.
Emily J North; Rolf U Halden
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural; Review    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Reviews on environmental health     Volume:  28     ISSN:  0048-7554     ISO Abbreviation:  Rev Environ Health     Publication Date:  2013  
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2013-04-24     Completed Date:  2013-07-22     Revised Date:  2014-01-09    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0425754     Medline TA:  Rev Environ Health     Country:  Germany    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  1-8     Citation Subset:  IM    
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MeSH Terms
Environmental Health*
Environmental Pollutants*
Grant Support
Reg. No./Substance:
0/Environmental Pollutants; 0/Plastics

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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