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Microplastics and How to Reduce Ingesting Them in Your Food and Drink
Scientists have discovered that plastics are everywhere in the ocean, in our rivers and in the air. The smaller pieces blow in the wind and every year it accumulates. As time goes by, there is more and more, because plastic is not natural, it does not rot.
The size of this plastic pollution ranges from microscopically tiny flakes to entire plastic bags and up to the scale of huge trawl nets. All endanger all wildlife. It is particularly harmful to marine life because ingesting these tiny debris is harmful to their health.
But it doesn’t end there. The impact on human health of the smallest sizes of these plastics in our bodies is the most alarming. It can cause cancer and has been shown to disrupt important cell membranes. At best of all creatures, it tends to hang around and get in the way, and that can’t be a good thing.
What are microplastics?
Microplastics are the tiny plastic particles (less than 5mm in size) that break when the plastic breaks down or oxidizes.
These particles are so small that many of them cannot be seen without a microscope. But they are moved in our rivers and by ocean currents that move vast distances in global circulation patterns, rather like confetti.
Only recently have scientists begun to look for “hot spots” where these particles accumulate. The purpose of such studies is to gather data on the quantity and potential hazards of these small pieces of trash. However, many problems are already known.
Where are the microplastics?
Microplastics are everywhere. They enter our bodies in our food. For example, they can enter the nostrils of farm animals from tire dust blown from the roads.
And even our water supplies are affected when they enter rivers used to supply our tap water.
Therefore, many scientists are trying to limit the use of plastics.
Microplastics in food
Microplastics are found in food. A recent study in Australia found that people ingest up to twenty grams of microplastics every week. In addition, consumers in other countries may consume up to four kilograms of microplastics each month. Some sources of plastics are likely to contain toxic chemicals harmful to humans, while others may not.
The Reason for Concern
“How can pieces of plastic hurt someone,” you might ask. After all, surely plastic is only made of long-chain polymers of carbon and hydrogen? These two elements are some of the most common on earth.
However, the concern does not come from plastic resin when it is clean. Some forms of plastic are used in their pure form without anything added. Other plastic polymers would be too brittle without the addition of plasticizers. Bulking substances are also added by manufacturers to reduce the cost of plastic materials as well.
What chemical additives are in plastic?
Plastics manufacturers rarely disclose what additional plasticizers their products contain. They say such information is a trade secret. No information is readily available about any tests they perform to check how safe their additives are for human health and the environment.
The threat no one saw coming
Until now, this was considered perfectly acceptable. Who would try to eat plastic products anyway, let alone plastic things that aren’t meant to go anywhere near food?
But they never thought to predict the sheer volume of plastic and how much plastic waste would enter the environment. Nor did humans realize how, being so close to the density of water, would mean it would drift for such a long time. Or how it would break up and wash up into millions of tiny pieces reassembling it on the beaches.
Actions you can take to reduce microplastics in your diet
Do not put plastic containers in the dishwasher
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding heating plastic in the dishwasher, as some heat-treated plastics may leach chemicals. For this reason, it is important to avoid using plastics in the dishwasher. In the end, it is important to limit the consumption of all kinds of plastic.
Avoid buying products that contain microbeads
If you buy products containing microbeads (in locations where they are not already banned), you may not notice the negative effect. Some say they make your bathroom feel too grainy. You may accidentally consume some whenever you use the product.
The World Health Organization report on this matter called for more research. And meanwhile he urged governments to ban the production and use of microplastics by 2025.
So avoid buying cosmetics and other products containing microbead microplastics such as some toothpastes and some perfume products from now on.
At the very least, always wash your hands or rinse your mouth after using cosmetics or toothpaste that contain microplastics.
Eat seafood in moderation
We eat seafood contaminated with microplastics all the time. Just change your diet and don’t eat fish all the time.
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley conducted a study on the effects of microplastics on fish, birds and other animals. And they are looking for other ways to reduce microplastics in the ocean.
Avoid eating processed foods
Another way to limit microplastics in your body is to stop consuming processed foods that contain microplastics. Unlike traditional meat, which can contain larger particles of plastic, processed foods can have more than 10 percent microplastics per serving. It’s very plastic!
And that’s not the only way microplastics enter our bodies.
Support action to limit the use of single-use plastics
Despite research progress, there is still no clear answer as to whether microplastics are harmful to human health. Meanwhile, it is very reasonable to assume that it is.
Many people are already voting against single-use plastic every time they buy a product by choosing it in a returnable non-plastic bottle. If you are concerned about microplastics, just join the movement and do the same!
Avoid bottled water
One of the biggest contributors to microplastics is drinking water. But according to a recent study, bottled water contains twice as much plastic particles as tap water. So avoid water that comes in plastic bottles.
Fortunately, there is now a way to reduce the amount of plastic in your tap water by using the microplastic filter available in some filtration products.
Microplastics in the other things we eat
But what about the rest of our diet? There is no definitive answer, but research shows that microplastics can be found in everything from meat to seaweed. In addition to our drinking water, it is found in beer and sea salt.
Microplastics are so small and invisible to the naked eye that it is easy to continue to ingest them unintentionally if they are in our environment (our homes and offices). Ultimately, there is only one way to avoid them and that is for everyone to drastically reduce the simple use of plastic packaging and other plastic items.
Microplastics are plastic items that are so tiny that they are invisibly washed down the drain and into the ocean almost everywhere all the time.
There are several ways to reduce the amount of microplastics in your diet by making food choices in favor of low-microplastic foods.
To further limit microplastics entering your body, the first and most obvious method is to limit the use of microbead-based personal care products. If the ones you usually use don’t include microbeads, there are other steps you can take to reduce this risk.
If you’re still concerned about your own consumption of microplastics, make sure to clean up the environment in your living space. There are some steps we can take to reduce the amount of microplastics in our homes and the global environment by pressuring local politicians to take action.
But for the rest of our time, we can still participate in local cleanups, reduce the amount of plastic in our trash, and always recycle our waste.
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