Plastic bottles, plastic cans and other items that contain chemicals have been linked to cancer, a new study suggests.
A review of more than 300 studies in which plastic was involved found the chemicals can cause cancer.
Key points:Researchers said plastic can be an environmental pollutant and be linked to health problemsThe research found it was not clear how much plastic was used in the manufacture of plastic productsResearchers also found some of the chemicals used in plastic bottles were linked to adverse health effects.
The review, published in the journal Environmental Health, looked at chemicals used to make plastics such as bottles, cans and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) used in products such as paint and cleaning products.
They found that while chemicals used for the production of plastic were not known, there was no consensus as to the amount of plastic used.
It found plastics had been used in various ways, with chemicals including formaldehyde and benzene being used for some purposes.
“It is possible that some of these chemicals are still in use today, particularly in paints and cleaning fluids used in consumer products,” lead researcher Dr Simon Higgs from the University of Sydney said.
“However, we know that plastic is an environmental contaminant that can affect human health and wellbeing.”
Lead researcher Dr Higgs said the research was a “major step forward” in understanding the health effects of plastic.
“There are so many factors that can be involved in our environmental exposure, and the health impacts of environmental toxins such as plastics can be particularly devastating,” he said.
The research was conducted at the Australian National University and the Australian Centre for Environmental Health.
It was funded by the Australian Research Council, the NSW Government, the Australian Council for Science, the South Australian and Queensland Governments, and several other agencies.