A Plastic-Pooping Turtle? Yes, Really

Eating fresh food lowers plastic chemicals in your body

On March 30, Environmental Health Perspectives published a groundbreaking study conducted by the Breast Cancer Fund and Silent Spring Institute, showing that removing certain food packaging from a family’s diet reduces BPA levels by an average of 60 percent. Watch a video of the study co-authors discussing findings and implications and download this “10 Canned Foods to Avoid” graphic.

  • Plastic chemical linked to infertility

Another new study, published in the Journal of Fertility and Sterility, looked at 26 women as part of a larger study of the effect of environmental contaminants on fertility. It found that those women with twice as much BPA in their blood had half as many viable eggs for in vitro fertilization. Read more about this study and recommendations for couples trying to conceive at The San Francisco Gate.

  • Plastic beads enlisted in fight against cancer

Pumping a body full of cell-destroying chemicals sounds like a bad idea, but that’s what chemotherapy entails. And, as doctors try to target the chemicals by injecting high doses into an artery that feeds the tumor, the bloodstream inevitably carries them into the rest of the body. It’s an imprecise and painful process, but a plastic bead called a QuadraSphere could make it less so.

Made out of a sodium acrylate and vinyl alcohol polymer that soaks up drugs and slowly releases them, QuadraSpheres are injected into an artery close to the tumor. The microscopic beads block the nearby capillaries, starving the tumor and preventing the drugs from escaping elsewhere into the body. Read the full story on Popular Science.

  • Turtle poops plastic for a month

A disturbing new report has been released that chronicles what decades of plastic pollution in our oceans has done to sea turtles. One of the more troubling stories from the report, which was issued by Seaturtle.org’s Marine Turtle Newsletter (pdf), highlights an instance of a green sea turtle that had swallowed so much marine pollution that it pooped plastic for a month.

The turtle was rescued in 2009 after marine biologists in Melbourne Beach, Fla., noticed that it seemed to be having problems digesting food. After dislodging a large piece of plastic from the animal’s gastrointestinal tract, the turtle proceeded to defecate 74 foreign objects over the next month. Some of those objects included four types of latex balloons, five different types of string, nine different types of soft plastic, four different types of hard plastic, a piece of carpet-like material, and two large tar balls. Read the full story at Mother Nature Network.

  • Even BPA-free plastics release hormone-disrupting chemicals

This week, scientists from PlastiPure and its sister company, CertiChem, published a study of more than 450 plastic products, including many labeled BPA-free. It found that more than 90 percent released chemicals that mimic estrogen.

The scientists say that even if plastics start out free of estrogen-like chemicals, they may not end up that way. "It’s very important to actually test plastic that has been through a manufacturing process, because things react chemically when you heat them, when you shear them, when they’re exposed to oxygen," one of the lead scientists says. PlastiPure hopes to make money by showing manufacturers how to tweak each step in the manufacturing process so there won’t be any unwanted chemicals in the plastics coming off the line. Read more at NPR.

  • Eco-Friendly Plastic made from Meat and Bone Meal

Plastics are usually made with petroleum raw materials but scientists from Clemson University say that they have found an eco-friendly substitute for these chemical compounds: meat and bone meal. These are prepared from waste materials from the rendering industry, which can include ground-up remnants of carcass trimmings, condemned carcasses and internal organs, and bones. Read more at Inventor Spot.

Have you seen any interesting stories about plastics recently? Share a link in the comments!