Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology conducted a study that found conventional plastic and plastic alternatives are equally toxic to the human body.

Conventional plastic is made from oil with non-sustainable practices. This plastic contains substances that can be dangerous to humans if ingested. This is a major problem because microplastics can make their way into drinking water.

Bioplastics entered the market as an alternative to traditional plastics, boasting clean practices and eco-friendly materials. These plastics are typically made from recycled materials or plant cellulose and are often biodegradable. But these plastics are not necessarily non-toxic.

During the study, the team found that products based on cellulose and starch contained the most chemicals. The team specifically looked at substances that are directly toxic to cells in the lab or act as hormones that can disturb the body’s balance. These chemicals sparked strong toxic reactions in the lab. Three out of four plastic products were found, in the lab, to have substances that were dangerous.

The study looked at 43 plastic products, including plastic cutlery, chocolate packaging paper, drink bottles and wine corks. The results showed that 80% of products had more than 1,000 chemicals and some had up to 20,000 chemicals. Every chemical combination had a unique makeup that creates different effects in the lab. This means it is almost impossible to keep track of all the harmful effects of all the plastic materials.

The team says they are unsure of alternatives or traditional plastics are better or worse for humans and the environment because of the variety of factors they found. They say that more research is needed to confidently come to a conclusion.

This study was published in Environment International.