Re: To keep things simple...
Firstly, I appreciate the time taken to put into a post. Almost seems offensive that it takes but a minute to read something that so much time was put into!
I did not know how long Asbestos had actually been around for, nor how long there had been questions about its safety. In science classes at school (late 80's) we had asbestos pads over our Bunsen Burners (cannot recall what they were called, you put the tripod stand above the burner, put this metal grill with a circle of asbestos on that over the flame, and sat your beaker on top of the asbestos). I've also come across it in places in work - and I have on at least a couple of occasions been exposed to 'blue asbestos in a powdered form' that'd been 'rendered airborne' whilst on a demolition site - we were engulfed in clouds of stuff when a part of a structure turned out to be very shoddily built and it came down faster than expected. It was only after the dust had settled that a friend made the grim discovery of chunks of broken asbestos pipe cladding that would've been left behind when the place was built some 60 years previously (ie the people who were installing the piping accidentally broke some of the cladding and left it where it fell, in the roof space of the building we were taking down). None of us has contracted Asbestosis yet thankfully - and thankfully the rates are quite low so it is likely none of us ever will, but my exposure has been enough that I could contract it. I'm more familiar with asbestos and it's risks than I'd like!
(I was also a smoker, I ride a bike, I tinker - including with things that can go 'bang' in unpleasant ways, eg mains voltages and gasoline engines), I'm overweight, I have a family history of diabetes and heart failure, I've already outlived several of my ancestors even though I am yet to reach 50 - lots of ways I could die any day!)
So am I saying that evolution will eventually cope with this problem? There probably are organisms that have evolved to either deal with plastic, or actively feed off it, but that is still not good news for the human race, so hey, let's look after the planet a bit better eh?
My understanding is that there has been efforts to engineer bacteria that would digest many such things. Whether that is viable (and of course, without worse side-effects) is yet to be seen. I hope it is - there is a LOT of cleanup work to do!
One piece of research that needs to be carried out is to quantify the problem statistically in post mortems. Have the body's various tubes been constricted by plastic material? How much plastic survives in the gut of a typical human?
I may know someone who'll have an idea, and will try to remember to ask him tomorrow. It certainly would be interesting to see, although it may be something not currently (or commonly) noted.
But how much of a plastic coating is needed to cause damage? I would bet a single layer coating 50% of the lungs would cause significant issues! A coating in the gut or upper intestinal tract could also cause significant issues with nutrient ingestion, as could particles lodged in and blocking various receptors. How much is needed to affect the Mylar sheath around our nerves, and what effect would this damage have? (or is it myelin? Or are they like centigrade/celsius? Feel free to correct me!)
This is why I am working more and more to have a completely natural garden, with natural or electro/mechanical pest controls (ie mesh netting and perhaps an electrified copper wire around the edges of the beds to keep bugs out), natural compost (our own kitchen and garden waste - contemplating what I might do with 'other waste' in the event of an earthquake taking out water or sewers) and the like. Years back I was diagnosed with high cholesterol. Seeing the side-effects of statins on a friend I decided to NOT use them for the first 6 months and instead change my diet. Getting rid of a few things (including oddly replacing margarine with real butter (yes I got that the right way round!) quickly brought the levels back under control - simple (and tastier!) changes to avoid ingesting more 'manufactured chemicals' brought about a faster improvement then taking the meds, and while I initially feared the changes I found an improvement in my life.
This (and my dislike and growing anxiety around un-natural compounds in the food chain) is what has encouraged me to press on and see what I can do. Sometimes it takes work, sometimes it's easy, but always it makes life better! I'd encourage anyone here who has the resources to get themselves a garden plot and start learning how to grow food naturally yet abundantly. There really is something nicer about stuff you grew yourself! And you can feel good when your 'food miles' are measured in less than 10 yards. Do it for yourself, or for those you love; for your tastebuds, or for the whole planet. But do it!