Plastic pollution has become a significant threat to the oceans, biodiversity, and ecosystems worldwide. Despite efforts to reduce plastic consumption, escalating plastic production continues to increase the magnitude of plastic pollution in the environment. In response to this crisis, the UN-Environmental Assembly (Link) adopted a resolution in March 2022 to develop a legally binding treaty to address global plastic pollution. However, the resolution falls short in addressing toxicity risks associated with plastics.
The article by Alva et al. proposes categorizing plastics as Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic (PBT) pollutants, considering their long-range transport and harmful effects on the environment. By applying the PBT framework, governments can control or eliminate the manufacture and use of harmful plastics. The article provides scientific evidence supporting the PBT criteria, highlighting the persistence, bioaccumulation potential, and toxicity of plastics. The adverse effects caused by plastic particles are attributed to both physical characteristics and chemicals leaching from the plastic. Chemicals added during production, as well as pollutants sorbed from the environment, contribute to the toxicity.
The adoption of the PBT framework is crucial to mitigate micro- and nanoplastic pollution, reinforcing the UNEA-Treaty and promoting global plastic governance. Urgent policy decisions, along with regulatory enforcement, are needed to cap and reduce plastic production and implement sustainable end-of-life solutions. Equitable interventions and equal access to pollution prevention strategies are vital to address the inequality gap and promote environmental justice in plastic pollution management.
Alava, J J et al. (2023). A Call to Include Plastics in the Global Environment in the Class of Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic (PBT) Pollutants. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2023, 57, 22, 8185–8188.
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