Ahead of negotiations on the treaty on Monday, the UN released a first draft which includes proposals to reduce plastic production and to introduce bans or to phase out certain polymers and chemicals of concern.

The draft represents the views expressed by its members at earlier meetings on the treaty, the UN has said, but is not a finished agreement.

However, the letter published in the Telegraph on Sunday warned that the draft “falls far short of what is actually needed to protect human and wildlife health”.

It notes that “many of the 16,000 chemicals used in the manufacture of plastic are hazardous” and can lead to issues including fertility problems, heart disease and cancer.

“Moreover, mounting evidence demonstrates that plastic particles pollute the air, drinking water, and food, leading to an ever-increasing risk of inhalation and ingestion on a global scale,” they said. 

‘Particles found in human blood’

“Plastic particles have been found in human blood, lungs and the placenta, posing a serious public health threat.”

Prof Hugh Montgomery of University College London, Dr Linda Birnbaum of Duke University and Prof Dr Dick Vethaak of VU University Amsterdam are among the signatories.

They are calling on the UN to deliver “a treaty that will reduce the production volume of plastics overall, eradicate all but verifiably essential single-use plastic items (and commits to funding sustainable chemistry research to innovate safe replacements), mandates proper testing of all chemicals in plastics and unequivocally prohibits ‘chemical recycling’ of plastics.”

Sian Sutherland, co-founder of A Plastic Planet and the Plastic Health Council, said: “Plastic is inescapable, omnipresent in our lives, and so are the chemical additives and particles that come with it.

“We are breathing, drinking and eating plastic every day. It is a material that is not on the periodic table. It is a blend of chemicals; some of them deemed toxic by health scientists. No more research and facts are needed to irrefutably prove these chemicals are bad for us.”

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