Ahead of negotiations on the treaty on Monday, the UN published a first draft that includes proposals to reduce plastic production and introduce bans or phase out certain polymers and chemicals of concern.
The draft represents the views expressed by its members in previous meetings on the treaty, the UN said, but it is not a finished agreement.
However, the letter published in the Telegraph on Sunday warned that the draft “falls far short of what is really needed to protect human health and wildlife”.
It notes that “many of the 16,000 chemicals used in plastic manufacturing are dangerous” and can cause problems such as fertility problems, heart disease and cancer.
“In addition, increasing evidence shows that plastic particles contaminate air, drinking water and food, creating an 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 placenta, posing a serious threat to public health.”
Professor Hugh Montgomery of University College London, Dr Linda Birnbaum of Duke University and Professor Dr Dick Vethaak of VU University Amsterdam are among the signatories.
They call on the UN to sign “a treaty that reduces the volume of plastic production overall, eradicates all but verifiably essential single-use plastic items (and commits to funding sustainable chemical research to innovate safe replacements), Require adequate testing of all chemicals in plastics and unequivocally prohibit ‘chemical recycling’ of plastics.”
Sian Sutherland, co-founder of A Plastic Planet and Plastic Health Council, said: “Plastic is inescapable, ubiquitous in our lives, as are the chemical additives and particles that accompany it.
“We breathe, drink and eat plastic every day. It is a material that is not in the periodic table. It is a mixture of chemicals; some of them considered toxic by health scientists. “No further research or facts are needed to irrefutably prove that these chemicals are bad for us.”