Another Kind of Plastic Poison

Ingesting nanoplastics and chemicals from plastic are not the only way that plastics are poisoning us. The manufacture of plastic by the petrochemical industry is another source of poison.

Petrochemical plants are poisonous in many ways. “Petrochemical production contributes to air pollution, water pollution and soil pollution. This can impact smaller systems, such as individual ecosystems, but also has repercussions on a global scale as well. For example, greenhouse gases emitted through the production of petrochemicals can contribute to global climate change.” (

Petrochemical plants emit harmful chemicals into the air around them. This has a disproportionate effect on poor, black and brown neighborhoods that have been redlined into the neighborhoods closest to the plants. The most notorious neighborhood is “Cancer Alley” in Louisiana followed by the neighborhoods around the Houston ship canal. In neighborhoods like these, life expectancy is ten years less than the U.S. average, also ten year’s less than Ohio’s.

“Petrochemical production also contributes to water pollution – both at the surface in lakes, ponds and streams as well as in the groundwater. The petrochemical production process results in wastewater contaminated with sulfides, ammonia and other compounds. Some plants utilize wells to inject the wastewater underground, which has historically resulted in contamination of the aquifers and groundwater where people get their drinking water.” ( Spills and leaks from petrochemical plants also get into the soil around the plant, polluting the area even after the plant is abandoned and scrapped.

Not living near a plant does not protect us from its pollution. The Environmental Integrity Project estimates that greenhouse gas emissions from one petrochemical plant equals the emissions from nineteen coal-fired power plants. And, in the near future, we may be living close to many petrochemical plants because the industry has its eyes on the Ohio valley for future expansion. Shell Oil Company is set to open one of the biggest state-of-the-art ethane cracker plants in the world on the Ohio River in Potter Township, Pennsylvania, under 200 miles away, right across the state lines from East Liverpool. Soon new pollutants will be contaminating the down river water supply and the air of central Ohio, plus it will be releasing huge amounts of greenhouse gases.

Thanks for your commitment to caring for God’s creation!

Leave a Reply