Protecting Ourselves from the Plastics Invasion


Due to scheduling conflicts and other unforeseen circumstances, the Battle of Homestead Foundation has RESCHEDULED its program, “Protecting Ourselves from the Plastics Invasion,”  to September 29, 2020,  7:30 – 9:00 pm.  The program is still FREE. Please note: If you’ve already signed up, you do *NOT* have to re-register. If you have not yet registered, you’re in luck! There’s still time and you can register at

During these daunting times, it’s more important than ever to support the work of other progressive non-profit organizations in their efforts to bring critical labor and environmental issues to the fore, even as the current administration seeks to obscure them from public view. In this spirit, BHF has rescheduled its planned program exploring the impact of the plastics invasion so that folks are able to attend the virtual “A – Z Impacts of Plastic Summit,” which will take place on September 17- September 20. Sponsored by a coalition of environmental groups, the Summit will include an opportunity to view the film “The Story of Plastic.” If you’ve not yet seen the film, here’s a great opportunity to do so, followed by an online discussion with the film’s directors. And you won’t want to miss our own musician and labor/environmental activist Mike Stout, who will perform at the closing of the Summit, at 8:15 pm on September 19, 2020. You can find out more about the Summit and register at, or go to the website,
Meanwhile, we’ll look forward to seeing you all at the BHF program “Protecting Ourselves from the Plastics Invasion” on September 29, 2020, at 7:30 p.m., when we’ll continue to explore the plastics story with presentations about the science behind this human disaster, its health impacts, and what we can do to challenge and change the devastating course we’re on.

JOIN US – you’ll be glad you did!
John Haer, President, Battle of Homestead Foundation

Protecting Ourselves from the Plastics Invasion will take place online on Zoom, September 29, 2020, at 7:30 pm. The program will include presentations from Dee Kochirka, Patty DeMarco, and Mike Stout, whose topics will cover Health Harms of Plastics Production and Use; Plastics Costs and Better Choices; and a Call to Action, respectively. Presentations will be followed by a question and answer session.

Patricia M. DeMarco is a native of Pittsburgh, PA. with a doctorate in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh. She has spent a thirty -year career in energy and environmental policy in both private and public sector positions. She is a Rachel Carson Scholar and served as Executive Director of the Rachel Carson Homestead Association and Director of the Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham University. She holds the office of Vice President of the Forest Hills Borough Council. She sits as Secretary on the Board of Trustees for Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

Her book, titled “Pathways to Our Sustainable Future – A Global Perspective from Pittsburgh” explores positive pathways toward sustainability, based on 28 case studies in Pittsburgh.

For more than fifty years, Mike Stout has been an antiwar, union, and community organizer, as well as the last Local 1397 Union Grievance Chair at the U.S. Steel Homestead Works. He is currently president of the Allegheny Chapter of the Izaak Walton League, the oldest environmental conservation organization in the United States. Stout is also a singer-songwriter and recording artist, with eighteen albums and more than 150 songs written and recorded, who has used his music to raise tens of thousands of dollars for a host of social and economic justice causes. His book, “Homestead Steel Mill–the Final Ten Years: USWA Local 1397 and the Fight for Union Democracy,” chronicles the demise of steel making in the Mon Valley are of Western Pennsylvania.

Dee Kochirka is a registered nurse with over 30 years experience providing healthcare. A University of Pittsburgh graduate, she also holds a masters degree from Duquesne University. She has served on the board of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Nurses Association and is Vice President of the Allegheny County chapter of the Izaak Walton League. A dedicated environmental activist, she teaches the public the dangers of plastics, specifically the harmful effects of plastics to human health.

Allegheny County chapter of the Izaak Walton League.

And co-sponsored by:


Why is plastic harmful?

Plastic never goes away.
Plastic is a material made to last forever, yet 33 percent of all plastic – water bottles, bags and straws – are used just once and thrown away. Plastic cannot biodegrade; it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces.

Disposed plastic materials can remain in the environment for up to 2,000 years and longer.

Plastic affects human health.
Toxic chemicals leach out of plastic and are found in the blood and tissue of nearly all of us. Exposure to them is linked to cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, endocrine disruption and other ailments.

Two broad classes of plastic-related chemicals are of critical concern for human health—bisphenol-A or BPA, and additives used in the synthesis of plastics, which are known as phthalates.

Plastic spoils our groundwater.
There are thousands of landfills in the United States. Buried beneath each one of them, toxic chemicals from plastics drain out and seep into groundwater, flowing downstream into lakes and rivers.

There are long-term risks of contamination of soils and groundwater by some additives and breakdown by-products in plastics, which can become persistent organic pollutants.

Plastic attracts other pollutants.
Chemicals in plastic which give them their rigidity or flexibility (flame retardants, bisphenols, phthalates and other harmful chemicals) are oily poisons that repel water and stick to petroleum-based objects like plastic debris. So, the toxic chemicals that leach out of plastics can accumulate on other plastics. This is a serious concern with increasing amounts of plastic debris accumulating in the world’s oceans.

Fish, exposed to a mixture of polyethylene with chemical pollutants absorbed from the marine environment, bioaccumulate these chemical pollutants and suffer liver toxicity and pathology.

Plastic threatens wildlife.
Wildlife become entangled in plastic, they eat it or mistake it for food and feed it to their young, and it is found littered in even extremely remote areas of the Earth. In our oceans alone, plastic debris outweighs zooplankton by a ratio of 36-to-1.

Over 260 species, including invertebrates, turtles, fish, seabirds and mammals, have been reported to ingest or become entangled in plastic debris, resulting in impaired movement and feeding, reduced reproductive output, lacerations, ulcers and death.

Plastic piles up in the environment.

Americans discard more than 30 million tons of plastic a year. Only 8 percent gets recycled. The rest ends up in landfills, is burned or becomes litter.

More than 5 trillion plastic pieces weighing over 250,000 tons afloat at sea.

Plastic poisons our food chain.
Even plankton, the tiniest creatures in our oceans, are eating microplastics and absorbing their hazardous chemicals. The tiny, broken down pieces of plastic are displacing the algae needed to sustain larger sea life who feed on them.

Contaminated plastics when ingested by marine species present a credible route by which the POPs can enter the marine food web.

Plastic costs billions to abate.
Everything suffers: tourism, recreation, business, the health of humans, animals, fish and birds—because of plastic pollution. The financial damage continuously being inflicted is inestimable.

The overall natural capital cost of plastic use in the consumer goods sector each year is US$75 billion.