How Microplastics Are Taking Over the World

How Microplastics Are Taking Over the World

I bet the last time you ordered seafood at your favorite restaurant “plastic” was not in the dish description.

Turns out it should be.

Currently, there’s more microplastic in the ocean than there are stars in the milky way, according to unwrappedlife.com.  How did this happen?

Plastic particles smaller than 5mm qualify as microplastics and originate from a variety of sources which include microbeads from personal care products, fragments from larger degraded plastic items and fibers from synthetic clothing.  So even if a plastic bag breaks up into small pieces over time and appears to be degrading, these tinier pieces will not biodegrade, instead they wreak havoc on an even larger scale.

 

Many personal care product contain microbeads that slip into our waterways. Image obtained from brantfordexpositor.ca

 

It is estimated that a quarter of all fish now contain plastic.  This means when you are ingesting your food, you are also ingesting these tiny plastic particles.  Bon appetit!  The problem is also not limited to the food we consume, our waterways have also been contaminated and, believe it or not, bottled water is one of the top carriers of microplastic.

Even plankton readily absorbs microplastic. Image obtained from nationalgeographic.org

 

Orb media conducted an experiment in which they tested the levels of microplastic in bottled water and the results were quite staggering.  They discovered that bottled water contained on average 325 particles, twice as much as tap water, with nylon, polypropylene and polyethylene terephthalate being among the culprits.  We are consuming a great deal of plastic!  What does all this mean for our health?

According to Orb Media, some of the very small (0.11mm or less) particles may end up lodged in the intestinal wall while other travel through the lymphatic system.  The smaller the particle, the greater the danger, with pieces 0.02mm and less being able to enter the bloodstream and lodge in the kidneys and liver.

We do not fully understand the long term consequences of ingesting microplastic yet, but whatever it is, it cannot be good.

Here’s a list of items according to theconversation.com to avoid if you are serious about reducing the amount of microplastic in our oceans:

  • Laundry and dishwasher pods/ tablets
  • Cigarette butts
  • Glitter
  • Confetti
  • Paper cups lined with polyethylene (opt for PLA lined cups instead)
  • Any personal care items like facewash and toothpaste that contain microbeads

 

 

 

 

 

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