Microplastics are just what the name implies….tiny bits of plastic from a myriad of sources, like washing fleece material in a washing machine for example. It’s been described as a problem affecting the food chain in oceans, but guess what? Around 90 percent of table salt brands were found to contain these (since I had of our salt comes from the ocean). So, we’re all ingesting these, not just marine life. Unfortunately, no one’s really sure what health risks, of any, this poses. Read this article for more on this:
After the BPA scare of a few years ago, consumers generally felt safe buying BPA-free plastic products. Well, I first reported on the risks of this last year, and now a new study warns of the dangers of these alternatives to BPA. The bottom line is that these new plastics pose similar risks as BPA (follow the link above, this one, and also this one for more information). My recommendation is the same – minimize your use of plastics in your food chain. Use stainless steel or glass where possible. Avoid aluminum water bottles too, as those are usually lined with plastic. Keep in mind that in the US at least, manufacturers aren’t required to demonstrate the safety of chemicals like these before they go on sale to the public.
NASA has just issued a press release where they state that the Curiosity rover has found PLASTIC on Mars! It’s in the form of small, eighth inch diameter plastic spheres, of a type of plastic that, as far as we know at least, can only be formed using petrochemicals. This suggests there could possibly be a source of oil on Mars…and the oil that would produce this sort of plastic is only known to come from ancient fossilized organic materials like zooplankton and algae. So this raises all sorts of questions…where did the oil come from…does that mean there was once life on Mars…and how was it turned into plastic? It’s amazing what we’re learning from one solitary robot cruising the surface of Mars with limited scientific capability…there’s so much more to learn from that planet!
UPDATE: well that’s embarrassing…it looks like I fell for a hoax, this story is not true.
Peak Plastic is the idea that the supply of plastic (which is limited by oil, for the most part) will be less than the demand…and in all likelihood, this will happen within our generation. I came across an interesting view on this at BoingBoing…that is, when plastic prices get high enough, there may be value in digging up the vast amounts of plastic buried in landfills and recycling that. Mining raw materials, in essence. Since plastic takes a very, very long time to decompose, it’s not as far-fetched as it may sound. There are still advanced engineering plastics that need to be made from raw materials (polycarbonate, ultem, etc), but for many consumer applications, recycled commodity plastics may be perfectly suitable.