BIOCHEMIST WARNS AGAINST EXCESSIVE USE OF PLASTIC

A biochemist has warned against the excessive use of plastic bags and other related products, for they pose a threat to human health and environment. According to Dr Salah Abdul Rahman, former professor of Biochemistry and Biology...

By Atef Hanafi (Staff Reporter)

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Published: Sun 22 Jan 2006, 12:25 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 1:25 PM

at the Rhine University in France, the use of plastics in day-to-day life has nearly become like the habit of food and purchase. Man's stomach has converted into a store for all kinds of plastic, he said.

The number of patients admitted to hospitals as a result of plastic use is alarmingly on the rise, he noted. The change in plastic industry has resulted in the increase of world production since 2000 to 100 million tonnes, he recalled. He added that the number of trashed plastic bags stood at nine million. Plastic garbage constituted 18 per cent of the total waste collected every year, he noted.

A study conducted by the Environmental Researches Committee has estimated that the consumption of big-size plastic bags in a supermarket accounted for 8,180kg every month and small-sized ones stood at 3,866kg, equivalent to 145 tonnes of plastic per annum, he said. Though the plastic products made of polyethylene are cheap in price and light in weight, they create human and ecological problems due to their immense capability to resist decomposition, he said.

A number of studies, which were conducted in Jordan, showed that 20 per cent of sheep perished as a result of eating plastic bags while grazing, he recalled. The attempt at getting rid of plastic bags by burning them might cause air pollution.

Elaborating, he said nitrogen oxide, ammonia, carbon monoxide, and other harmful gasses are formed as a result of burning, thus posing a threat to the health of those who live near the incinerators, where allergy and chest and digestive system ailments spread. Some other types of plastics also pose a threat and endanger human life, such as PVC, he said. PVC does not pose a threat alone, but when added to other substances for easy use, he said.

The composition of PVC and other substances can cause the contracting of chronic diseases such as cancer. A number of European countries have banned the use of PVC, especially in manufacturing of toys. The ban, he said, was imposed on the basis of studies, which proved its harmful effects on the growth of the child’s genitals as well as toys of oral use, for they cause ailments of the digestive system, since the materials they contain dissolve in the stomach.

The share of a single person towards waste stood at 725kg in the UAE, according to statistics released by the Dubai Municipality. The share of garbage of each and every person in France and England is 282kg, said the figures. The breakdown of figures released by the Dubai Civic Service Authority shows that the volume of plastic waste constitutes 18.21 per cent per annum of the total garbage.

Dr Salah said the European Commission has issued a book — 'The Green Book' — which explains the danger of PVC use in day-to-day life, and on how to dispose of the same. The substance is part of the ingredients of many items, such as window frames, electrical cables, pipes and other indispensable items. Studies showed that the burning of plastic materials sometimes results in the increase of their weight before being set on fire.

Dr Salah, however, called for the need to reduce the quantities of plastic used not only in making bags, but on other products. He also called for the use of advanced technology in waste recycling, especially where plastic is involved. Europe is suffering from the problem of plastic waste, in which PVC alone is involved at 4.3 million tonnes per annum, he added.



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