Thursday, February 22, 2024
ENVIRONMENTfeatured storyHEALTH

Plastics pollution causing infertility and cancer mostly in men.

There is a growing public concern over the increasing cancer cases and men who cannot have children because they are infertile. The Ugandan ministry of health figures show that infertility affects about 15 percent of couples of reproductive ages in Uganda while cancer kills about 22,000 people annually.

According to new research, the two problems as well as many other negative health impacts, could be a result of the widespread plastic pollution. Dr. Frederick Muyodi, the deputy principal at Makerere University College of natural science, blames plastics for health impacts including cancers, lung disease and birth defects.

Plastic can take up to 500 years to decompose. According to Dr. Muyodi, plastics break down slowly over time and produce smaller particles called micro plastics, which also find their way into the food chain.

Bahati Mayomo, an assistant lecturer of aquatic ecology and pollution control at the University of Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania, carried out an investigation in Lake Victoria in 2021 and found out that about 20 percent of Nile Perch and tilapia fish has ingested micro plastics.

These two types of fish are the most eaten in all east African countries. In his report, Mayomo said due to the mismanagement of plastic waste, the percentage is likely to double, meaning that the total population of people eating plastics through fish would increase as well.

“There is a lot of plastics getting into the water ways such as Nakivubo channel and end up into Lake Victoria,” Dr. Muyodi said, adding that this is where Kampala’s population gets its drinking water.

“The people around the lake take some of the water directly from the lake, this contains micro plastics which cannot be digested; we also get fish from Lake Victoria,” he added.

According to Dr. Muyodi, the micro plastics accumulate and cause problems to human health. Plastics lead to malfunctioning of the body and affect the brain and lungs, they could also be causing the increasing cancers in Uganda and elsewhere. The plastics could also cause infertility in men.

 

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