In the age of convenience, where plastic has become an integral part of our daily lives, but a silent threat looms beneath the surface – plastic pollution. It's a menace that has quietly infiltrated our oceans, rivers, and even the air we breathe. As we sip from plastic bottles, unwrap packaged goods, and discard single-use plastics without a second thought, the environment pays the price. In this blog, we embark on a journey to uncover the harsh reality of plastic pollution, its far-reaching consequences, and the urgent need for change.

Nowadays we use plastics widely from furniture to food wrap-ups means that everything from very large to small we use which is made from plastics.  we are habitual in using plastics without caring about the impact of the plastics on the earth's lives including humans, animals, and aquatic animals.  Every single life in the world is impacted by plastics.

plastic pollution, accumulation in the environment of synthetic plastic products to the point that they create problems for wildlife and their habitats as well as for human populations. In 1907 the invention of Bakelite brought about a revolution in materials by introducing truly synthetic plastic resins into world commerce. By the end of the 20th century, plastics were persistent polluters of many environmental niches, from Mount Everest to the bottom of the sea. Whether being mistaken for food by animals, flooding low-lying areas by clogging drainage systems, or simply causing significant aesthetic blight, plastics have attracted increasing attention as a large-scale pollutant.

Plastic pollution is one of the biggest global problems, every day, approximately 2,000 garbage trucks full of plastic waste are dumped into the world's oceans, rivers and lakes, Every year approximately 19-23 million tonnes of plastic waste leaks into the aquatic ecosystem, polluting lakes, rivers and seas.

The major threat of plastic on  Aquatic biodiversity : Over 400 million tons of plastic are produced every year for use in a wide variety of applications. At least 14 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year, and plastic makes up 80% of all marine debris found from surface waters to deep-sea sediments. It is estimated that over 100,000 marine animals die just because of plastic waste. Plastic entangle animals block their digestive system or even mistaken for food this can lead to starvation, injury and death

  Aside from millions of animal deaths, plastic pollution damages our coral reefs as well. These ecosystems are home to thousands of marine wildlife, from crustaceans to fish Plastic-entangled instances of human activity, like greenhouse gas emissions, pose a threat to coral reefs. It also contributes to the likelihood of disease — when entangled in plastic, coral reefs are far more susceptible.

How Plastics can Effect or Harm Land Animals? Similar to what happens to sea creatures, ingesting plastic pollution and other trash can harm or even kill land animals by causing digestive obstructions and other problems. There have been numerous instances of land-based mammals mistakenly ingesting plastic debris, including elephants, hyenas, zebras, tigers, camels, and cattle. This has led to several needless deaths.

Plastics are easily used to capture and entangle wildlife, leaving them less mobile and more susceptible to adjacent predators. Animals will overheat, suffocate, become dehydrated, starve, and eventually pass away if they unintentionally get their heads stuck in plastic food containers.Plastic can also cause serious injuries to animals, sometimes even leading to limb loss.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, animals like racoons frequently become stuck in plastic ring drink holders, which results in serious wounds and slashes on their bodies. Plastics impair birds' abilities to hunt and fly.

Microplastic is also a big threat for terrestrial animals. Plastic trash in landfills and other places leaches Microplastic into the soil and surrounding water sources. A 2020 study, the first of its kind to investigate how the presence of microplastics affects soil fauna, discovered that terrestrial microplastic pollution has resulted in the decline of species that dwell beneath the surface, such as mites, larvae, and other microscopic organisms.

The extinction of these species results in less productive soil and land. Furthermore, chlorinated plastics, such as plastic food packaging, plastic tubing’s, and medical gadgets and items, can leach toxic chemicals into the surrounding soil, seeping into groundwater on which many species rely. As a result, the food that we plant and that animals consume is more likely to be contaminated. According to Greenpeace, fruit like apples and pears have an average of 195,500 and 189,500 particles per gram respectively, whereas vegetables like broccoli and carrots average more than 100,000 plastic fragments per gram.

Birds And Plastic Pollution : plastic is the biggest problem in our environment like other creatures Birds also can affected by plastic. There are two types of plastics big and tiny and both are harmful to birds because Plastic does not break down easily that's the reason now we can see plastic everywhere in the form of bags, cups, bottles etc. even oceans are included in it.

The seabird that lives near the oceans often eats fish that may have swallowed plastic due to this the risk factor of death is increased for the seabirds. According to estimates, by 2050 every sea bird on Earth will have swallowed plastic.

The land birds like hawks and vultures are also affected by plastic because they eat animals they might have plastics in their bodies furthermore, the other birds are also affected by plastics as they might eat plastics as food or eat by mistake in both conditions birds can be hurt by the plastic.

How Plastic Threaten human health?  The use of huge amounts of plastic can affect the human health. The use of plastic products lead to the ingestion of large amounts of microplastic particles and hundreds of toxic substances with known or suspected impacts.  The study shows that plastic pollution can cause lung and gut injuries because very tiny microplastics can cross the cell membrane, the blood-brain barrier and even the placenta of the human which leads to effects including oxidative stress, cell damage, inflammation and impairment of energy allocation functions.

When we talk about plastic which we see in our surrounding in different form it's not just a simple thing it's a complex mixture of many chemicals including bisphenol A, phthalates, and certain flame retardants, these chemicals are very dangerous and can mess with human hormones and disrupt the endocrine system of humans. These chemicals also have other adverse effects on the human health.

When people or animals come into contact with plastic or its debris they are not only dealing with physical plastic but also with chemicals that stick to the plastic. This makes exposure to plastic pollution more concerning because we exposure the plastic and these chemicals also, mean that there are many problems or impacts we face just because of the small piece of plastic.

Furthermore, the plastic substance fall into 2 categories: small molecules and large molecules.

In small molecules falls chemicals which are explained in above and the other category large molecules includes polymeric materials that make up plastic like the long chains of molecule that gives plastics it's structure. These large molecules are not harmful in the  same way that small molecules bit still have physical impacts when ingest them.

Plastic And the Environment:  plastic is now a biggest problem in the world because we made many disposable or bags for our convenience but these plastic stuff used just for a very short time but they stick around in the environment for ages threatening wildlife and spreading toxins and take hundreds of year's to decompose because they are made up of fossil fuel and does not easily degrades it is estimated that a single piece of plastic take 400-1000 years to decompose Plastic waste and debris have caused substantial environmental pollution globally in the past decades.  The presence of synthetic plastic materials in the environment, which causes issues for both wildlife and humans, is referred to as plastic pollution. The problem began in 1907, with the creation of Bakelite, which introduced synthetic plastic resins to the global market. Plastics were discovered to be persistent contaminants in numerous ecosystems, from Mount Everest to the ocean floor, as the 20th century proceeded. This pollution takes many forms just like explained above but also it impacts our environment like plastic garbage obstructing drainage systems which causes floods in low-lying areas, Because of their far-reaching and negative impacts, plastics have attracted increased attention as a serious environmental hazard. Plastic also contributes to the global warming.

Almost all plastic is made from chemicals that come from the production of planet-warming fuels such as gas, oil and even coal.

How plastic causes Deforestation: Due to the plastic there is an issue of deforestation because plastic is made up from petroleum which means it's production contributes to deforestation because the trees are cut down to make way for oil drilling and refining facilities.

In summary, plastic pollution harms our land , water, lives , even cause global warming  especially when it's not disposed of correctly. And the process of making plastic can indirectly contribute to deforestation by encouraging the drilling for petroleum. These are some of the reasons how plastic pollution contributes to negative impacts on humans, animals water, the earth everything.

About the Author: Rubab Malik is pursuing her BS degree in the field of biotechnology from Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science And Technology Karachi.