Thursday, Oct 21, 2004
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By Our Staff Reporter
TIRUNELVELI, OCT. 20 . Serious health impairments including the disturbances caused to the endocrine functioning, owing to the use of `use-and-throw' plastic materials were discussed at a workshop on `Reducing the Applications of Use-and-Throw Plastics' held at Sri Paramakalyani Centre for Environmental Sciences of Manonmaniam Sundaranar University at Alwarkurichi recently.
An exhibition was also organised at SPKCES in association with the State Government Department of Environment. Eco-friendly materials, which can be used as an alternative to the plastic products, had been displayed at the exhibition to create an awareness, among the participants, of the hazardous nature of plastics and the alternate products currently available.
Delivering the keynote address, scientist A. G. Murugesan of the SPKCES narrated how the nature of the soil and its texture, waterways and the atmosphere were polluted by the dumping of `use-and- throw' plastics during the past one-decade. "Dioxin, a highly toxic carcinogenic gas emanating from a burning plastic, causes severe damage to the respiratory systems and ultimately results in the growth of cancer cells in the affected parts of the body. Since the commonly used pesticides and the ingredients of plastics contain `gender-bending chemicals' well above the permissible level, they trigger serious problems such as impotency, change in masculine characters etc. Hence this issue has to be given more attention and a number of researches should be conducted on inventing more and more reliable alternatives to plastic materials," he said.
He expressed concern over the recent findings that some of the ingredients of plastics disrupted the hormones of male organisms when they were excessively exposed to these toxic substances and consequently develop feminine characters. The hot fatty food products packed in plastic materials and the lollypops with plastic sticks could also cause severe damage to even a healthy individual.
Inaugurating the workshop, the Tirunelveli District Environmental Engineer, Manoharan, explained various steps being taken by the official machinery to reduce the utilisation of `use-and-throw' plastic products, which had an adverse impact on the environment and the need to protect the pristine environment from the contamination by plastic products. He also lauded the efforts of Dr. Murugesan, who recently synthesised biodegradable polymers using abundantly available waterweed, water hyacinth, through biotechnological principles.
The Reader, Department of Botany, St. John's College, Selwyn, gave an elaborate account of the plastic waste being generated in the country and appealed to the consumers to discourage the use of plastics whenever possible.
Senior research scholars of the SPKCES, C. Rajakumari and John Ruby, highlighted the negative impacts of plastics on environment and endocrine system of animals, marine mammals, seabirds and humanbeings, capable of altering the sex of the organism temporarily or permanently.
The Dean of Sciences, MSU, N. Sukumaran, G.S. Vijayalakshmi of the SPKCES and others spoke. Over 150 participants from colleges, schools and eco-clubs in the district participated.
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