Author Archives: ramansandhar

The Truth about Plastics

Plastic pollution has become one of the most serious threats to our oceans today. Approximately 90% of all garbage floating in our oceans is plastic. Common sources of plastics entering our oceans include beach users, illegal dumping, and plastics manufacturers and transporters. Unlike other types of garbage, plastic is not biodegradable by bacteria and other micro-organisms. It is either broken down by tidal movements into micro-plastics or is photo-degraded into smaller and smaller pieces by sunlight. Therefore, these small pieces of plastics never really leave our oceans.

According to statistics, 267 species are being affected by plastic ocean pollution worldwide, including 86% of sea turtles, 44% of all sea birds, and 43% of marine mammal species. Marine animals often mistake pieces of plastic for food. Once ingested, their bodies are not able to digest these plastics. Therefore, these plastic items remain in the animal’s body causing damage to its digestive system. As a result, the animal dies from starvation and dehydration.

Animals also suffocate on plastic trash, such as plastic bags and cigarette packages, which block the animal’s air passageway and may also inhibit normal growth. Common examples include sea turtles mistaking plastic bags for jellyfish. The plastic bags are too large for sea turtles to digest. Thus, the sea turtle suffocates to death.

Sea Turtle Mistaking Plastic Bag for Jellyfish (Image taken from via Google advanced search)

Smaller plastics, known as microplastics,  remain in our oceans and are ingested by planktonic organisms at the base of the aquatic food chain. These organisms act as food for other predators which make up higher trophic levels. As a result, the plastics, as well as the chemicals within the plastics, are passed on to higher trophic levels, affecting the entire aquatic food chain.

Plastics are made up of petroleum and other toxic chemicals. One of the most common chemicals found in plastic items is phthalates. Phthalates are used in many beauty products, such as cosmetics and facial scrubs. These products are used by humans on a weekly or daily base. However, the marine environment suffers the consequences of these chemicals and plastics being flushed down the drain.

The video below provides an insight to plastic pollution in more detail:
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It is necessary for humans to take necessary actions to prevent further damage to marine life. We do not have to be the reason why another sea turtle suffocates to death. We do not need to throw our litter on beaches. Don’t become a part of the problem. Be a part of the solution.

Bisphenol A (BPA)

Recently, I came across this acronym, BPA, and thought to myself, “what is BPA?” To my surprise, it turned out to be an industrial chemical I was being exposed to everyday and I didn’t even know! Similar to myself, there are many people in our society who are unaware of the use and exposure of this chemical. Therefore, the purpose of my blog is to familiarize students of Science 300 and our society with what BPA is, its use in industry, and the possible health risks it poses to human health.

Bisphenol A (BPA), is an industrial chemical used to make polycarbonate and epoxy resins which are used in many consumer products.

Chemical Representation of BPA (from

Polycarbonate is used in a variety of products because of its unique attributes. It is a light weight, high performance plastic used by industries to make consumer products such as infant bottles.

Epoxy resins are also used in a variety of consumer products, such as paints,  because they maintain the quality of the canned product. Many canned foods and beverages have epoxy resins used as liners to maintain food quality.

Canned foods contain BPA which leaches out into the product. (from

Over the years, BPA has been one of the most extensively researched chemicals.  Safety assessments have concluded that the exposure level to humans “is more than 400 times lower than the safe level of BPA set by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency.” Then why is BPA still a topic of debate?

Many people are still worried about BPA exposure because this chemical mimics the hormone estrogen. It is also widely known to be an endocrine disruptor. Research studies have indicated that the tiniest exposures to the chemical can increase risks for cancer and disrupt the hormone system. Other studies have shown high levels of BPA in urine samples of six year old children.

The question which arises now is, “what has the government done to prevent BPA exposure?” According to an article published in New York Times, Canada has banned the use of BPA for infant bottles. Additionally, many industries are making BPA-free products available to people. Nevertheless, the controversy which still remains is whether or not these substituted chemicals are safe?

The video below further discusses this issue:

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In conclusion, there is a lot of debate over the topic of BPA exposure to humans as well as its health consequences. Daily news reports are being published on this issue which keep us updated on what the government is doing in regards to using this chemical in the industry. Furthermore, researchers all over the globe are continuously experimenting with BPA on rodents to provide concrete evidence about the health risks it may cause. As for now, to avoid BPA exposure, consumers should avoid using plastic containers which have recycle codes 3 or 7 on them as they may contain BPA as well as not use plastic bottles for hot liquids.