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Petrochemicals, Plastics & Health: Will global treaty offer pathway to progress?

April 10 , 1:00 pm 2:00 pm EDT

Plastics chemicals and their impacts on human health are a central issue in the global plastics crisis. An estimated 99% of plastic is made from fossil fuel-derived chemicals (or petrochemicals), which have been associated with increased rates of neurodevelopmental disorders, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and certain cancers. 

A recent review article by Dr. Tracey Woodruff highlights the link between the explosive growth of the petrochemical industry and the rise in various diseases, particularly reproductive cancers in women. The analysis emphasizes that many petrochemicals used in plastics are endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which interfere with the body’s hormonal function and are found in many everyday products. 

Global plastic production is projected to nearly triple by 2050, from 400 million to 1100 million metric tons. With upcoming INC-4 negotiations to develop an international legally binding plastics treaty, it’s crucial that policymakers and the general public understand the health and environmental risks associated with chemical exposure throughout the plastics life cycle. 

A recent state-of-the-science report on plastic chemicals co-authored by Dr. Laura Monclús Anglada for the PlastChem Project synthesizes the current scientific evidence on more than 16,000 chemicals potentially present in plastic materials and products. It identifies the plastic chemicals of most concern and recommends approaches for regulation, transparency, and safer plastics.

In this webinar, CHE-Alaska and CHE will host Dr. Woodruff and Dr. Monclúsfor a conversation about chemicals in plastics, their impacts on human health and how the global plastics treaty could help address this urgent public health issue.

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