This week I’d like to talk about a science news story that both alarmed me and intrigued me. The story is based on findings that people all over the world are eating 5 grams of plastic a day. That is equivalent to a plastic credit card a week!
In a new study (pdf), commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature—formerly known as the World Wildlife Fund, suggests that over the course of seven days, the average person consumes 2,000 tiny plastic particles and fibers, 1,769 of which come from drinking water alone.
Now I’m not talking about plastic shards lodged in body parts, I am talking about very small particles of plastic compounds being infused in our very metabolic system. The compound that was discovered is BPA, which stands for bispheral A. This is a common ingredient for polycarbonates which are used to line food and beverage containers as well as to make items like baby bottles and food storage containers. The findings from this study showed that 92 percent of the 2,500 people tested had minute traces of BPA in their urine. While the amounts BPA were very minute, only “a few parts per million,” the impact on our health is still significant.
The reaction our bodies have to ingested BPA can be detrimental to our overall health. Problems with the reproductive system, digestive system and weight can all develop because of traces of BPA in our systems. What does this mean to students and science class? Well, as long term impacts of plastic use continue to be studied, students may need to focus their energies on looking at plastic alternatives.
Try starting a classroom discussion with this questions, “If plastic is determined to be hazardous to our health and is removed from the market, what else can we use instead of plastic?”
Questions like this one can be a great way to springboard science fair project ideas. Find other sources of inspiration from kid science magazines and intriguing science fair project websites.