The use of plastic and plastic-derived products in everyday life has increased significantly world-wide since the 1950’s. Look around you right now and notice just how much plastic you are surrounded by. Plastics are unavoidable in today’s world and are used for pretty much everything, including containing and packaging our food and drink. Plastic is not a naturally occurring material like wood nor is it a relatively minimally processed material like glass or steel. Plastics are engineered and manufactured from a wide variety of raw chemical materials to give plastics their different characteristics (i.e., strength, pliability, color, etc).

There has been increased concern over the years among researchers and scientists about the increased use of plastics and the potential effects this can, and has had, on human health. One of the most notable stories regarding plastics and human health has been with bisphenol A, or BPA. Ever see products labeled as BPA-free? The issue is that BPA and other chemicals used in the manufacturing of plastics are known endocrine disrupters. Meaning, they alter and disrupt normal endocrine function. As you have started to learn in Chapter 17, the Endocrine System plays such a vital role in the very careful and minute control and regulation of countless bodily processes. Thus, endocrine disrupters, like BPA, can have major impacts on human health. However, like with most things, there is always opposition…..

Your task for this assignment is to research this topic and become experts on the human health risks of plastics. More specifically, you are to evaluate and determine if there is in fact sufficient scientific evidence to suggest that plastics are a risk to human health. While you will find that the health risks of plastics are far reaching, Unit 2 is on control and regulation. As such, you are to focus your research and response on the health risks associated with the Endocrine System.

Now, this is a science class so we need to pretend to be scientists. As such, we need to approach this topic and set up its associated questions in a more scientific and testable way (i.e., very clearly and well defined) — Do the chemicals contained within plastics enter into the human body and, if so, do they negatively alter our anatomy or physiology? This is what you are looking for evidence of – a negative effect of the chemicals contained within plastic products on human anatomy or physiology, more specifically the Endocrine System. Based on science and the scientific method, if no such effect can be shown through rigorous scientific testing, then it is unlikely that such an effect exists.

Each student must research the topic and critically think about the scientific evidence that is available. Once you have completed your research, you will evaluate the evidence and carefully craft a concise 600 – 800 word essay outlining the evidence you found and your conclusions on the topic (i.e., yes there is sufficient evidence or no there isn’t). This assignment is not intended for you to simply convey unsubstantiated opinions on the topic. If you have an opinion on the matter, you must substantiate your position using scientific evidence. You must provide justification for your conclusions and cite your sources of information using APA format.

I will not be grading you on whether I agree with your conclusions. You will be graded based on how well you (1) support and substantiate your conclusions using the scientific evidence that you have collected and (2) the referencing and validity of your sources. Refer to the grading rubric for grading criteria. Be sure to paraphrase; using quotations is plagiarism. Make sure you use valid and reputable scientific sources (i.e., primary literature, governmental and university websites, research organization websites, etc.).

Good luck and let me know if you have questions. Can’t wait to see your responses!

P.S. Check out the video “A Plastic Ocean”. I believe it is on Netflix. It is a great documentary on the global environmental and human health concerns associated with plastics. It is an eye-opener to say the least…..

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