Volume No. 9 Issue No.: 3A Page No.: 906-913 January-March 2015




Mathur Noopur*, Sharma Sakshi, Mathur Nupur and Singh Anuradha

Department of Zoology, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur (INDIA)


Received on : October 15, 2014




Plastics are inexpensive, lightweight, strong, durable, corrosion-resistant materials with high thermal and electrical insulation properties. As a consequence the production of plastics has increased substantially over the last 60 years. The plastic polymers are not considered as toxic but in plastic products there may be non-bound residual monomers, polymerization chemicals, degradation products, which may leach into the food material, stored in them or may release if heated and also have been found to have toxic properties. For e.g. Bisphenol A and Di-2-Ethyl Hexyl Phthalate (DEHP) are of principal concerns which have endocrine disrupting properties. They are also associated with reproductive abnormalities such as lower sperm counts, hormonal changes, enlarged prostate glands, abnormalities in the number of chromosomes in eggs and pre-cancerous changes in the breast and prostate, obesity and insulin resistance. Thus biodegradation of plastic is also a major concern with toxicity because plastic waste accumulation in environment is increasing day by day. Carry bags, food containers, packing material etc. Which may be toxic for human health are the most commonly used articles in synthetic plastic products. Poly Ethylene (PE) is used mainly in manufacturing and shares 64% of synthetic plastic produced. Low level recycling of PE waste create huge amount of solid waste. Degradation of polyethylene can be categorized as abiotic or biotic. Abiotic factors include UV irradiation, temperature, chemicals etc. And biotic degradation includes microorganisms acting upon polymer using it as carbon and energy source. Both biotic and abiotic factors can act along or their separate action can degrade polyethylene. Degradation ability of microorganisms such as bacterial species like Bacillus (Amyloliquefaciens, Mycoides, Pumilus, Thuringiensis), Arthobacter(spp, Viscosus), Micrococcus (Luteus, Lylae), Acinetobacter baumanni and fungal species like Aspergillus (Versicolar, Flavus), Mucor circinellodies etc, have been reported in recent years. This review article covers toxic effect of plastics, waste generated due to plastic products and microbial degradation of polyethylene as the commonly used plastic in day today life. Looking beyond the essential services that plastics provide to humanity and their associated human health risks, evidence abound for plastics potential to pollute and disrupt important natural processes and quality of life.


Keywords : Plastics, Toxicity, Polyethylene, Biodegradation, Microorganisms