PFPW.NEWS – July 6, 2020

~   GAO Examines Company Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Factors
~   Nanoplastics – Human Exposure Risk Assessment
~   Microplastics – Health Consequence Knowledge Needed
~   Microplastics Found in the Soft Tissue of the Golden Mussel
~   Microplastics in Soils – Analytical Methods
~   Microplastics – “You’re Probably Inhaling Microplastics Right Now
~   Micro and Nano Plastic Particles Detected in Fruits and Vegetables
~   Microplastics thought to enter the Atmosphere through Sea Spray
~   “Plastic waste surges as coronavirus prompts restaurants to use more disposable packaging
~   The US Food System in 2050

GAO Examines Company Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Factors 
– On July 6, 2020, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) released report GAO-20-530, titled “Public Companies: Disclosure of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Factors and Options to Enhance Them”  which “… examines, among other things, (1) why investors seek ESG disclosures, (2) public companies’ disclosures of ESG factors, and (3) the advantages and disadvantages of ESG disclosure policy options … GAO analyzed 32 large and mid-sized public companies’ disclosures on 33 selected ESG topics …” – The report notes that “… Nonfinancial information about how a company does business … could be an indicator of its long-term financial performance; Investors have been asking companies to disclose more on ESG topics … [and] We discussed several options to improve these disclosures …” #PlasticWaste #Recycling #ESG #Sustainability #GAO

Nanoplastics – Human Exposure Risk Assessment
– According to a report published July 2, 2020 in the journal Stem Cells  and by researchers with the University of Kragujevac, Serbia and others “… Increased pollution by plastics has become a serious global environmental problem, but the concerns for human health have been raised after reported presence of microplastics (MPs) and nanoplastics (NPs) in food and beverages … few studies have investigated the potentially harmful effects of MPs/NPs on early human development and human health. Therefore, we used a new platform to study possible effects of polystyrene NPs (PSNPs) on the transcription profile of preimplantation human embryos and human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) … results clearly demonstrate that better understanding of NPs bioactivities and its implications for human health is of extreme importance. Thus, the presented platform opens further aspects to study interactions between different environmental and intracellular pollutions with the aim to decipher the mechanism and origin of human diseases …” #MicroPlastics #NanoPlastics #PlasticWaste

Microplastics – Health Consequence Knowledge Needed
– The plastics you don’t see might kill you” is the title of a July 3, 2020 Los Angeles Times Editorial which notes that “… Not only do plastics refuse to biodegrade, but minuscule plastic particles are in the air we breathe and the food we eat … recycling efforts hardly made a dent in the volume of plastic waste produced annually… At this point, we probably don’t need more evidence that plastic is everywhere. What would be helpful is to know the health implications of breathing and consuming it … Plastic has long provided many benefits to human health existence … No one is suggesting that we banish all plastic — just that we restrict usage only to what is necessary, and be mindful of the health consequences of the invisible plastic particles in our bodies. Even as we grapple with the formidable short-term crises facing us, we must keep in mind the long-term threats to our health and our environment …” #MicroPlastics #PlasticWaste

Microplastics Found in the Soft Tissue of the Golden Mussel 
– According to a report published in the July 2020 journal Regional Studies in Marine Science by researchers with Instituto de Limnología in Argentina, the authors analyzed for “… the presence, abundance, types, size and colours of microplastics (MPs) in the soft tissue of the golden mussel Limnoperna fortunei in the freshwater-mixohaline tidal zone of Río de la Plata estuary … The high density of L. fortunei on the coast of the Río de la Plata, its potential predators, and the presence of MPs in the soft tissue, warn the important role this mussel plays in the transfer of this pollutant through the trophic web of the estuary …” #Microplastics #PlasticWaste #SingleUsePlastic #Recycling

Microplastics in Soils – Analytical Methods 
– On January 30, 2020, researchers with the University of Bayreuth, Germany, published a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science and Technology  “… a critical review on the different published methods for sampling, extraction, purification, and identification/quantification of microplastics in complex environmental matrices, with the main focus on their applicability for soil samples. While large microplastic particles can be manually sorted out and verified with chemical analysis, sample preparation for smaller microplastic analysis is usually more difficult. Of the analytical approaches proposed in the literature, some are established, whereas others are a proof of principle and have not yet been applied to environmental samples. For the sake of development, all approaches are discussed and assessed for their potential applicability for soil samples. So far, none of the published methods seems ideally suitable for the analysis of smaller microplastics in soil samples, but slight modifications and combinations of methods may prove promising and need to be explored …” #PlasticWaste #MicroPlastics

Microplastics – “You’re Probably Inhaling Microplastics Right Now” is the title of a June 25, 2020 New York Times opinion by Janice Brahney, an assistant professor of watershed sciences at Utah State University  – Her group “… sampled dust in 11 scattered locations, from Joshua Tree National Park in California to the Wind River Range in Wyoming …” – They found microplastics in “… all of our samples … up to 6 percent of the dusts in those far-flung locations are microplastics and that more than 1,000 metric tons are deposited in those places every year by wind and rain … This waste has become so ubiquitous that it’s now in the air we breathe … If dust in the Grand Canyon contains microplastics, how many of these tiny plastic particles are in city dust? … What effect are they having on the environment? Are microplastics more toxic than other, better-understood sources of air pollution such as natural and industrial dusts? …” – Their research is published in the June 12, 2020 issue of Science magazine.  #Microplastics

Micro and Nano Plastic Particles Detected in Fruits and Vegetables
– According an August 2020 report published in the journal Environmental Research by researchers with Catania University in Italy  “… Microplastics (MPs) represent a current public health concern since toxicity has not yet fully investigated … We focused on diet exposure aiming to evaluate the number and the size (<10 μm) of MPs in the most commonly consumed vegetables and fruits … We focused on diet exposure aiming to evaluate the number and the size (<10 μm) of MPs in the most commonly consumed vegetables and fruits, in relation to their recommended daily intake … Based on the results obtained it is urgent important to perform toxicological and epidemiological studies to investigate for the possible effects of MPs on human health …” #PlasticWaste #MicroPlastics #NanoPlastics

Microplastics thought to enter the Atmosphere through Sea Spray
– According to a May 12, 2020 report published in PLOS One by researchers with the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK and others  “… Current plastic pollutant research has generally assumed that once plastics enter the ocean they are there to stay, retained permanently within the ocean currents, biota or sediment until eventual deposition on the sea floor or become washed up onto the beach … some plastic particles could be leaving the sea and entering the atmosphere … via the process of bubble burst ejection and wave action … we review evidence from the existing literature … and follow this with a pilot study which analyses microplastics (MP) in sea spray. Here we show first evidence of MP particles … in marine boundary layer air samples … Our results indicate a potential for MPs to be released from the marine environment into the atmosphere by sea-spray …” #PlasticWaste #MicroPlastics

Plastic waste surges as coronavirus prompts restaurants to use more disposable packaging is the title of a June 28, 2020 CNBC story. 

The US Food System in 2050 
– On June 29, 2020, the Food Forum of the National Academies announced that on July 22 and 23, 2020 a virtual workshop will be held to “…explore the integration of the health, societal, economic, and environmental effects and future needs of the food system. The main objective is to understand how to achieve a resilient food system in 2050 that provides access to safe and nutritious food with environmental and economic sustainability. Workshop presenters will explore three main dimensions of the food system: vulnerabilities, resiliency, and transformation. The workshop will include discussions on global change, access to health and food, resiliency in complex dynamic systems and resiliency for the future, and consumption- and production-oriented strategies to transform the food system …” – Three sessions will address Vulnerabilities of the Food System; Resiliency of the Food System; and Transformation of the Food System #PlasticWaste #SingleUsePlastic #FoodPackaging