Excessive Plastic Ingestion And Kidney Functioning
Thanks to the surge in media coverage, the whole world (and its uncle) is now aware of the toxic effect of plastics on the environment. Plastics are non-biodegradable and remain unchanged and indestructible for at least 400 years. Burning plastics releases toxic fumes. Dumping plastics in the seas and oceans causes it to be consumed by various marine life leading to their death and destruction.
Apart from the environmental damage, plastics have also been found to be directly injurious to human health. In various studies around the world, plastics have been shown to be associated with heart disease, cancers, skin disease, brain disorders, kidney disease, hormonal disease and autoimmune disorders.
The primary toxic agent in plastics has now been identified as the compound bisphenol A (BPA). BPA was originally created in the 1930s as a synthetic oestrogen but later discarded for medical use after better and more natural oestrogens were discovered. However, BPA made a comeback when it was found that it lends hardness. visual clarity. lightweight and resistance to the temperature of plastics.
The Effect Of BPA On Humans
Currently. BPA is used extensively in plastic containers to store food, water bottles, beverage cans, lenses, PVC pipes, utensils, toys, medical devices. fax paper, electronic items and even dialyzers for haemodialysis in patients with kidney failure. Humans are exposed to BPA when increased temperature and acidic liquids leach BPA into the food and water products which are subsequently ingested and swallowed Also, skin contact with sales receipts and printer paper causes BPA absorption into the body. And also, the burning of plastics produces BPA fumes which enter the body through the lungs and eyes.
The Effect Of BPA On Animals
In experimental animals it has been proven that once absorbed into the body. BPA causes a chemical switch in natural endocrine processes that may adversely impact reproduction, weight. foetal brain development, immune and thyroid function. It has also been shown that BPA absorption causes liver damage. cancers. pancreatic disease, obesity, heart disease id chronic kidney disease. Inhalation of BPA fumes causes cough and asthmatic attacks. Eye and skin exposure to BPA fumes leads to conjunctivitis. eye swelling, skin redness and roughened skin. Similar results have been seen in humans, but less consistently than in animals.
The Kidneys And BPA
Once BPA enters the human body, the only way it can be removed is by the kidneys through urinary excretion. Normal kidneys can handle and excrete even large quantities of BPA. However, problems start when kidney function is even slightly compromised, which is the case in nearly 20 per cent of the worlds population. Here the kidney is unable to keep up with the load of BPA which is constantly finding its way into the body by different routes of oral ingestion. inhalation and skin halation, And patients with kidney disease cannot process ingested BPA as efficiently as people with normal kidney function.
To make matters worse, BPA is used in the manufacturing of dialyzers and tubings constantly exposing dialysis patients to this toxic chemical. This combination of increased exposure and reduced excretion proves dangerous to patients on haemodialysis.
Why Not Ban BPA?
What are the governments of the world doing to combat this ever-present and real menace of plastics? Too little! In Japan, BPA has been replaced by a polyester film. In 2011, the European Union (EU) banned baby bottles with BPA Sadly, both the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the EU has claimed to have not found sufficient evidence to ban the widespread use of BPA in the food and beverage industry.
The FDA has concluded that BPA is safe, but in the absence of conclusive criteria, it has recommended reducing exposure as much as possible, BPA has not been banned on the basis of the following questionable criteria:
- High cost of banning its use.
- High BPA doses used In animal experiments (So what!)
- Lack of human interventional studies (Yeah, right?)
- Different metabolism in animals and humans (Like it matters!)
- Complete renal elimination in people with normal kidney function (What about the nearly 20 per cent population with kidney disease?)
The scary part is the ubiquitousness of BPA. The extensive use of BPA containing products has resulted in high human exposure worldwide. The abundant availability, the varied methods of entry into the body and the proven toxicity of BPA make plastics a true environmental toxin and every attempt must be made at every level to limit their use.