World on Fire

Plastics & the Toxic Chemistry of a World on Fire

UAlbany Institute of Health and the Environment presents a public seminar with environmental health scientist Dr. Susan Shaw, MFA, MPH, DrPH

UAlbany School of Public Health, NY
Date: December 6, 2019
Time: 12:15 PM


“Fires today are infernos of toxicity from plastics that now pervade the Earth’s sediments, oceans, and air – and our buildings, furniture and consumer products. As the planet heats up, our plastic footprint is converging with our carbon footprint in dangerous ways.” –Dr. Susan Shaw

Dr. Shaw first voiced a warning of the extreme danger of burning plastic at the world’s first Plastic Health Summit in October, reaching a global audience of 300 million people. Shaw’s on-stage talk was cited as "the most powerful speech of the Summit” by Plastic Soup Foundation founder Maria Westerbos, who was moved to tears by a sequence showing hundreds of young children who live and work as “scavengers” on burning plastic waste dumps.

Called the “godmother of firefighter research” by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Shaw’s landmark 2013 study revealed the cancer hazards for firefighters battling structure fires and prompted urgently-needed protections for firefighters in the US, Canada, and Europe. According to Shaw, the same health risk now extends to millions of people in our increasingly synthetic and fire-prone world.


An outspoken advocate of plastic reform, Dr. Shaw is the US Scientific Liaison to the Plastic Health Coalition, an international alliance formed by the Plastic Soup Foundation to accelerate research on human health effects of plastics and mobilize global reduction strategies