IT is scientifically proved that plastics contain and leach hazardous chemicals, including endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that threaten human health. According to a new report, Plastics, EDCs, & Health, from Endocrine Society and International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), there are alarming health effects of widespread contamination from EDCs in plastics.
EDCs, according to the report, are chemicals that disturb the body's hormone systems and can cause cancer, diabetes, reproductive disorders and neurological impairments of developing foetuses and children. There is, therefore, reliable evidence to support direct cause-and-effect links between toxic chemical additives in plastics and specific health impacts on the endocrine system.
In Tanzania, the government banned for the first time the production, supply and use of carrier plastic bags on June 1, 2019. There was good public response as producers, suppliers and users of these bags adopted alternative and environmentally-friendly bags, which are still in use.
The decision to ban the carrier plastic bags was to join global efforts to curb environmental pollution and adverse health effects given the fact that all plastics almost always end up in water bodies – such as rivers, ponds or dams, lakes and oceans – and their substances have been found in fish species consumed by humans.
In some parts of the country and in some shops and markets one can still see that certain banned plastic bags are still in use. This is due to the fact that some unscrupulous traders are only interested in the profit they make and hardly do they care about health risks caused by the use of banned products such as carrier plastic bags.
EDCs in plastics are a global health issue felt acutely in developing countries. As part of the global and national efforts, the government has issued a three-month ultimatum for retailers and manufacturers to stop reproducing and using single and double-use plastic bags prohibited in 2019. Minister of State in the Vice-President’s Office (Union and Environment) Ummy Mwalimu noted recently with concern that retailers and manufacturers were increasingly reproducing the prohibited bags, thus jeopardising efforts to fight against environmental pollution.
We feel compelled to reiterate as we have been doing time and time again to remind each other that we have to stop the reproduction, supply and use of banned plastic bags and use only those, which are environmentally-friendly because there is nothing we can lose.
But if we don’t comply, then we will find ourselves in the hands of law enforcers and we will be subjected to some penalties. Let us refrain from the reproduction, distribution and use of banned plastic bags because they are detrimental to the environment and to our health. So, let us comply with government directives and use alternative bags that are also available in the market.