Beicology: Plastic in Feces and More Beijing Plastic News

How bad is the smog these days? Who monitors the condition of our drinking water? What has the government done lately regarding CO2 emissions? At Beicology, we focus on environmental news in the capital.

Environmentalists find their work plagued by plastic more than any other material. Readers will know that Beijing is waging war on the single-use plastics clogging the city’s landfills. But the story doesn’t end there. This week in Beicology we bring you the latest research and scientific commentary on plastics from Beijing.

Plastic in the feces? Probably.

Compared to the plastic bags and packaging we see every day, microplastics – and its even smaller cousin, nanoplastics – are a less visible, but equally daunting problem in the modern world. We have known for a long time that tiny plastic fragments haunt the world’s rivers and waterways, but in 2019 Austrian scientists were able to detect such fragments in human feces.

Now, a study has confirmed that if you live (and drink water) in Beijing, there’s a good chance you have plastic poop too. The Peking University study looked at the waste from Beijing men and found microplastics in 95 percent of their stool samples.

By tracking the men’s food and drink habits, the scientists were able to point a finger at a major culprit – packaged water, which they concluded had a moderate correlation with “microplastic incidence in feces”.

What does this mean for your health? Unfortunately, scientists have next to no idea. Much more studies are needed on the effects of microplastics in the human body. Still, the results are a wake-up call for medical professionals and environmentalists.

China’s plastic waste import ban is hailed as a boon to global mitigation of the impact of plastic

Since China’s 2017 plastic waste import ban, the world has been struggling to find alternative ways to deal with the waste they used to export. However, a recent quantitative study suggests that the ban may already have had a positive impact on sustainability – at least in some ways.

By analyzing the United Nations’ trade statistics, the scientists concluded that while the ban had a temporary negative impact on both global warming and the size of landfills around the world, it did affect the impact of plastic waste management on the production of fine particles potentially effectively reduced water consumption, freshwater ecotoxicity, and human carcinogenic toxicity.

However, the authors note that these trends could be reversed if developed countries don’t revive their own recycling systems in the coming years and instead turn to other developing countries to dispose of their waste.

CAAS scientists combine BPA with animal feed packaging

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used in many plastic products that can severely affect the body’s hormones when exposed to humans. We have known for some time that people often ingest BPA through foods of animal origin – and now scientists at the Beijing Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences claim they know why.

Their study points to packaging that animal feed is supplied in, and they were able to show how the BPA gets from the packaging into the feed.

As our knowledge of how people are exposed to BPA grows, hopefully policymakers will respond in the same way to reduce BPA in our food.

READ: Beicology: What’s in a Beijing Sandstorm?

Image: Emojipedia

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