Articles on Plastics

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A family catches Mardi Gras beads during the Krewe of Thoth parade down St. Charles Avenue in 2000. Reuters

The destructive life of a Mardi Gras bead

Each Mardi Gras, 25 million pounds of beads hit the streets of New Orleans. One researcher went to the Chinese factories that make them – and spoke to the workers who believe the beads will be given to royalty.
Many seabird species, including the blue petrel (Halobaena caerulea), consume plastic at sea because algae on the plastic produce an odor that resembles their food sources. J.J. Harrison

The oceans are full of plastic, but why do seabirds eat it?

Thousands of seabirds die every year from consuming plastic trash in the oceans. But why do they eat plastic? New research shows that it produces odors that help some species find prey.
Around 94% of litter on South African beaches is made of plastic, of which 77% is packaging. Peter Ryan

Five applications where plastic is not fantastic

Waste plastic affects marine life significantly but better education and recyclable plastics could go a long way in resolving this issue.
What’s in your water bottle?

BPS, a popular substitute for BPA in consumer products, may not be safer

Manufacturers have removed the industrial chemical BPA from many products over concerns that it mimics hormones in the body. Now studies show that BPS, a popular substitute, has similar effects.
Microplastics sample collected in a plankton net trawl in the North Pacific subtropical gyre from the SSV Robert C Seamans. Giora Proskurowski/Sea Education Association

Far more microplastics floating in oceans than thought

New method tallies microplastics in southern oceans, yielding a total that's 37 times higher than previous estimates.
Gird your loins. Shutterstock

Are plastics making men infertile?

Recent research into the health effects of the plastic-making chemicals phthalates has reignited concerns about low sperm counts. But the evidence is far from conclusive.

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