What are the health hazards caused by polymers???
To the general public, there are very few health concerns with polymers. You could ingest the small organic plasticizer molecules in polyethylene water bottles. Those bottles were designed for milk, with a very short shelf life, not water. You could ingest scrapings of teflon (polytetrafluoroethylene) from non-stick pans. The teflon might not ever get out of your body, it has been found in umbilical blood.
But the main hazard will come from chronic (long term) exposure to the volatile components of the polymer. Workers exposed to vinyl chloride (makes PVC) or styrene (makes styrofoam) have been shown to suffer nerve damage, Also, hexanediamine, one of the components of nylon, causes cancer.
Small particles can be inhaled and get trapped in the lung tissues and have no way of degrading over time.
When burned the combustion products of polymers tend to be highly toxic.
I would say that since polymers are made up of large numbers of monomers, they May break down i the body producing dangerous monomers that are toxic to the body whether in small or large amounts.
Also, in the process of breakdown they may release harmful compounds eg. methane or even elements like lead.
thirdly, the monomers that are produced may act as enzyme inhibitors, and thus inhibiting important metabolic processes in the body.
Most synthetic polymers are not hazardous to your health when used properly (i.e. no plastic bags on your face, burning etc)
They are very stable molecules and your body can't digest them so if you eat them, they pass right through (such as Teflon).
Usually people are concerned about the tiny amounts of unreacted monomer that is left behind when a polymer is made. Many monomers are toxic.
On the other hand, starch, protein, DNA, and cellulose are all polymers (starch is a polymer of glucose and other sugars, proteins are polymers of amino acids, DNA is a polymer of nucleic acids)
Other synthetic polymers are designed to break down in the body (bio-degradable polymers) and generally their monomers are harmless.
Not yet reported unless they are burned which gives toxic fumes...
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