Microplastics have become more common in the environment over the last few decades, originating from a variety of sources ranging from plastic bottles to tyre parts flaking off on roads.
The problem is compounded by the fact that once in the environment, plastics continue to break down into smaller and smaller particles. They also grow more concentrated as they go up the food chain, with smaller animals that have a little amount of microplastics in their bodies being devoured by larger animals that absorb the microplastics.
According to recent studies, the average adult person consumes more than 100,000 microplastic particles every day, but it is not yet fully understood what health effects that produces.
Microplastics are tiny plastic particles that are less than five millimeters in length. Polyethene, dioxin, phthalate, polypropylene, and bisphenol A are some of the most frequent microplastics (BPA). These tiny bits of evil can get into the food we consume, the water we drink, and the clothes we wear, causing harm to our bodies.
The repercussions of microplastic contamination have recently piqued people’s interest. Microplastic pollution, particularly in the maritime environment, has been the subject of media reports, as has the possibility of food poisoning.
To present, the majority of study has focused on microplastics in the marine environment. Plastic garbage can end up in our seas and oceans, where it will never fully decompose. Instead, it ‘breaks up,’ resulting in microplastics. UV radiation from the sun contributes to the deterioration process.
Microplastics, which are light and buoyant, can move tremendous distances in our ocean currents. They can be found on the surface of the oceans, on beaches, in arctic sea ice, and in deep sea deposits. Fish, seagulls, and other marine animals mistake microplastics for food and devour them.
They may become part of the human food chain after being eaten by aquatic animals.
However, this isn’t the only way microplastics can get into our food supply. Sea salt, honey, beer, bottled water, organic fertilizers used in backyard gardens, and even indoor dust collecting on our meals have all been investigated for their likely presence.
The scientific evidence on microplastics in the food supply’s possible exposures and health effects is currently developing.
According to a new study, the global average of microplastic intake per person might be as high as five grams per week, which is akin to eating a teaspoon of plastic — or a credit card — per week.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) commissioned the study, which was conducted by the University of Newcastle’s microplastics research team.
In an attempt to offer an accurate estimation of ingestion rates, it compiled the findings of 50 foreign research articles.
According to the study, adults consume around 2,000 microscopic particles of plastic per week, based on “conservative estimations.” The study focused on microplastic less than 1mm in size, which are the most commonly ingested contaminants.
Water, both bottled and tap, was the most common source of plastic ingestion, according to University of Newcastle researcher Thava Palanisami.
“It’s largely fibers in water,” he explained, “which could come from industrial activity.”
“It’s emitted along with other gasses and chemicals, and this might eventually seep into freshwater bodies, contaminating drinking water.”
According to Dr. Palanisami, one investigation proved that bottled water from groundwater sources was mostly devoid of plastics.
Shellfish, beer, and salt had the highest recorded plastic amounts of the products evaluated.
Microplastics were an emerging pollutant, according to Dr Palanisami, and while there was limited particular data for Australia, he expected ingestion rates to be lower due to reduced seafood consumption and a cleaner environment.
The next step in their research, he said, will be to learn more about the health effects of eating plastics.
“What is the true impact? That is something that needs to be investigated,” Dr. Palanisami remarked.
The paper, titled No Plastic in Nature: Assessing Plastic Ingestion from Nature to People, was due to be published in scholarly journals, but it was released early to coincide with the WWF’s campaign to reduce plastic pollution.
In June 2019, the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology released research by the University of Victoria in Canada.
It looked at 26 studies and discovered that humans consume at least 50,000 bits of microplastic every year.