In 2009, experts outlined nine boundaries that keep us within the limits of this steady state. They include greenhouse gas emissions, forests, biodiversity, fresh water and the ozone layer. However, the rapidly growing cocktail of synthetic chemicals now flooding the environment has now passed the safe limit for humanity, according to the report published in Environmental Science & Technology .

“The pace that societies are producing and releasing new chemicals and other novel entities into the environment is not consistent with staying within the safe operating space for humanity,” says co-author Linn Persson.

Sadly, humanity has already crossed four other planetary boundaries; global heating, the destruction of wild habitats, loss of biodiversity, and nitrogen and phosphorus pollution.

“The rate at which these pollutants are appearing in the environment far exceeds the capacity of governments to assess global and regional risks, let alone control any potential problems,” says co-author Bethanie Carney Almroth of the University of Gothenburg.

Plastic pollution can impact other vital planetary boundaries too including climate change via fossil fuel use, the availability of clean water and even antibiotic resistance , added Carney Almroth.