This paper takes part in the series essay competition of “great science” of Recordunkown.
If you want to ask friends, what is the most important thing for people in today’s society? Maybe a lot of people will answer that mobile phone is indeed an indispensable tool in modern people’s daily life. But in fact, people’s daily life is really inseparable from the mobile phone, but many people ignore the plastic products.
I believe our friends are familiar with plastics. We can observe our surroundings. I believe you can see a lot of plastic products. With the continuous progress of human civilization, the rapid development of science and technology, people’s quality of life continues to improve, and the application of plastic is more and more widely, more and more common, it is the most inseparable thing for modern people.
The extensive application of plastics has brought a lot of convenience to people’s life, but at the same time, it also produced a new source of pollution, that is white pollution. I believe many friends know that white pollution mainly refers to the pollution of plastic products. Maybe many people don’t know much about this plastic, so let’s briefly introduce it first.
The plastic we usually use is not a single component, it is made of many materials. High molecular polymer (or synthetic resin) is the main component of plastics. In addition, in order to improve the properties of plastics, various auxiliary materials, such as fillers, plasticizers, lubricants, stabilizers, colorants, antistatic agents, should be added to the high molecular compounds to become plastics with good properties.
Plastic is a kind of high molecular polymer, which has both advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are that most plastics are light in weight, stable in chemical properties, no corrosion, good in impact resistance, good in transparency and wear resistance, good in insulation, low in thermal conductivity, good in general formability and colorability, and low in processing cost.
The disadvantages are that most of the plastics have poor heat resistance, large thermal expansion rate, easy to burn, poor dimensional stability, easy to deform, and most of the plastics have poor low temperature resistance, brittle at low temperature, easy to aging. When recycling waste plastics, it is very difficult to classify them, and it is not economical. Plastics are easy to burn and produce poisonous gases when burning. For example, toluene is produced when polystyrene is burned. A small amount of this substance will cause blindness, vomiting and other symptoms when inhaled. The combustion of PVC will also produce toxic hydrogen chloride gas. In addition to combustion, high temperature environment will lead to the decomposition of toxic components from plastics, such as benzene.
Of course, these shortcomings are not the biggest impact on the environment. The biggest impact is that plastics are high molecular polymers, which are extremely difficult to biodegrade in the natural environment. Buried in the ground for hundreds of years is difficult to decay, because of the plastic can not be naturally degraded, it has become the number one enemy of mankind, has also led to the tragedy of many animal deaths. For example, monkeys, pelicans, dolphins and other animals in the zoo will swallow the No. 1 plastic bottle thrown by tourists by mistake, and finally die painfully due to indigestion.
Some people may think that plastic pollution is only aimed at the terrestrial ecological environment, but in fact, through research, scientists have found that the pollution of plastic waste to the ocean is becoming more and more serious. There is a huge “continent” in the Pacific Ocean, which is actually composed of plastic waste from all over the world, also known as the garbage continent.
This shows how serious the pollution of plastic waste to the ocean is, and the garbage continent is still expanding outward. Besides the plastic waste on the surface, plastic waste has also been found in different depths of the ocean. Even in the deepest Mariana Trench, scientists have also found a lot of human plastic waste.
It can be seen that the pollution of plastic waste to the earth’s ecology is all-round, not limited to the land. Some people may say that no matter how serious the pollution caused by plastic waste is, as long as we don’t take the initiative to eat plastic, it will be OK. Is this really the case? If you think so, it may be a big mistake. Scientists have also found a lot of plastic particles in human bodies, which is not a good phenomenon.
And with the development of human civilization, the degree of accumulation of plastic particles in human body is becoming more and more serious. I believe many friends know that all diseases come from eating. There are a lot of plastic particles in the human body, which is naturally what we eat. It may be said that we are not stupid enough to take the initiative to eat plastic, but why are there so many plastic particles in our body?
To solve this mystery, we need to have an understanding of the process of plastic in the earth’s ecological cycle. Yes, we won’t take the initiative to eat plastic. Everyone knows that plastic is not good for human health, but many things don’t happen if you don’t want to. Plastic waste used up in human daily life, a large number of into the nature, whether on land or in the ocean, there are a lot of biological existence.
Just because human beings can’t eat plastic doesn’t mean other animals can’t. In fact, many animals in nature will eat plastic. In the eyes of animals, plastic is also a kind of food. Although plastic is extremely difficult to be completely biodegradable in the natural environment, it will also decompose. When it decomposes, it is a good food for many animals.
So the animals on land will eat plastic, and the organisms in the sea will also eat plastic. It is also difficult for these plastics to be completely digested and decomposed when they enter the organism. They will be decomposed into tiny particles and exist in the organism. I believe many friends know that there is a rule in the biosphere that big fish eat small fish. When small fish eat plastic, and then they are eaten by bigger fish, these plastic particles will continue to accumulate in the biological chain.
Human beings are the top of the earth’s biological chain. When these plastic particles continue to accumulate in the biological chain, the final destination is human beings. Because humans are at the top of the food chain, there are no creatures that humans dare not eat, so the plastic particles in their bodies will eventually enter the human body. In this way, the plastic particles in the human body will gather more and more.
In addition to enriching plastics by eating, many of our clothes are not made of pure cotton, most of them are made of synthetic fiber (polyester), such as polyester and acrylic. These things will fall off clothes and float into the air, and then be inhaled by us. When we wash clothes, these fibers will be carried into the earth’s fresh water resources with the waste water.
In the long run, the content of these fibers will be higher and higher, and they will continue to accumulate in the body of organisms. Think about the high polymer molecules that nature needs millions of years to decompose, and organisms can’t “digest” these things.
So what will be the impact of the accumulation of plastics in the human body? Studies have shown that microplastics may cause damage to the reproductive system and liver. Scientists have found nine of the most common plastic ingredients in humans, pet and PP, which are common ingredients in plastic food packaging and synthetic clothing.
It is a firm fact that every human body has been invaded by plastic particles or plastic fibers. However, scientists are not very clear about the main way in which these plastics enter. What kind of risks will be caused to people in the short term or even in the long term is also unknown.
It is certain that plastic particles will have an impact on human health. However, there is no final conclusion on the specific impact. Now we all know that the pollution of plastics has begun to affect human health, and there are only two ways to reduce this impact.
One way is to strengthen environmental protection and properly handle plastic and other products instead of discarding them at will as in the past. For plastic waste, because the recycling efficiency is not high, so the recycling of plastic is difficult to see in our daily life. If the centralized plastic waste has no recyclable value, the best way to deal with it is to bury it in the ground so that it is not directly exposed to the air. In this way, the pollution to the environment and the harm to biology can be greatly reduced.
Another way is to look for things that can break down and degrade organisms. In fact, scientists have been looking for natural enemies to study plastics. Through continuous research, it is found that in nature, there are organisms that can effectively degrade plastics. Its name is Tenebrio molitor. This kind of insect is similar to silkworm. People can eat it directly. I believe some friends have eaten this kind of insect.
Chinese scientists have found that plastics can be quickly biodegradable in the intestine of Tenebrio molitor, which may be a good way to solve the plastic pollution. We can collect plastic garbage, and then raise a large number of Tenebrio molitor, let them eat plastic, can effectively solve the problem of environmental pollution caused by plastic degradation.
Of course, it will take a long way to achieve this. Anyway, the power of nature is very magical. In addition to Tenebrio molitor, there may be other organisms that can degrade plastics in nature, but we haven’t found them yet. I believe that with the efforts of human beings, it is no longer difficult to solve the pollution problem of plastics in the future.
Guys, what do you think of this? Welcome to leave a message below to discuss and express your opinions.