Photo: REUTERS
health

A plateful of plastic: Visualizing the microplastic we consume

9 Comments

Microscopic pieces of plastic have been discovered in the most remote locations, from the depths of the ocean to Arctic ice - and in our bodies as we breathe in and eat microplastic, and drink plastic-infused water every day.

People could be ingesting the equivalent of a credit card of plastic a week, a recent study by WWF International concluded, mainly in drinking water but also via food like shellfish, which tend to be eaten whole so the plastic in their digestive systems is also consumed.

Reuters used the findings of the study to illustrate what this amount of plastic actually looks like over various periods of time.

Plastic production has surged in the last 50 years, leading to the widespread use of inexpensive disposable products that are having a devastating effect on the environment, cluttering beaches and choking marine wildlife.

Plastic does not biodegrade. Instead, it breaks down into smaller pieces, and ultimately ends up everywhere, including in the food chain.

In a week, we ingest a plastic bottle cap's worth, and in six months, we consume a cereal bowl full.

This may not sound like much, but it can add up. At this rate of consumption, in a decade, we could be eating 2.5 kg in plastic.

And over a lifetime, we consume about 20 kg of microplastic.

We also don't fully know what impact this ingestion of micro and nano-sized plastic particles has on our health, said Thava Palanisami of Australia's University of Newcastle, who worked on the WWF study.

"All we know is that we are ingesting it and that it has the potential to cause toxicity. That is definitely a cause for concern," he said.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Plastic does not biodegrade. Instead, it breaks down into smaller pieces, and ultimately ends up everywhere, including in the food chain.

In a week, we ingest a plastic bottle cap's worth, and in six months, we consume a cereal bowl full.

Yikes!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

All we know is that we are ingesting it and that it has the potential to cause toxicity. That is definitely a cause for concern," he said.

According to the article, increased plastic consumption by humans must have been happening for decades. How do the researcher's fears square with the fact that within that timeframe life expectancy has been increasing in every developed country, and in most of the developing ones?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

How do the researcher's fears square with the fact that within that timeframe life expectancy has been increasing in every developed country, and in most of the developing ones?

I guess richer nations can be more choosy about what they eat? It's when those nations start developing health problems, maybe something will be done?

Either that, or eating plastic is really good for you.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Big Yen:

According to the article, increased plastic consumption by humans must have been happening for decades. How do the researcher's fears square with the fact that within that timeframe life expectancy has been increasing in every developed country, and in most of the developing ones?

Non sequitur. Firstly, these are average numbers from different populations, and secondly, we do not know by how much life expectancy would have changed without the added plastic food.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Scientists will eventually develop bacteria which will thrive on microplastics starting

600 year long earth cleanup era.

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The horror lies in the effect wich might well explain the rise of Autism in our children. This being sourced as a contributor, one could expect never to hear such a result since the health industry THRIVES on plastic.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

in a decade, we could be eating 2.5 kg in plastic.

And in that time, how much iron, potassium, mercury, dead flies, and other stuff do we consume?

From high school chemistry, I recall that plastic is organic. Should we celebrate?

We also don't fully know what impact this ingestion of micro and nano-sized plastic particles has on our health,

I suspect we don't fully know the effect of half the stuff we consume.

Sorry for the grumpy post. But articles like this make me feel no more knowledgable than I was before.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

BigYen said;

"According to the article, increased plastic consumption by humans must have been happening for decades. How do the researcher's fears square with the fact that within that timeframe life expectancy has been increasing in every developed country, and in most of the developing ones?"

The increase in life expectancy is not necessarily because people are living longer. Life expectancy is the "average" age at which people die. Infant mortality, which used to be rampant, has been considerably tamed in recent years and that accounts for the higher average age at death.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Infant mortality, which used to be rampant, has been considerably tamed in recent years and that accounts for the higher average age at death.

I think it only accounts for part of it. The proportion of people aged over 100 has also increased. I'd guess the two things are related. Whatever the cause, physical health has generally improved. And thus the question - because of or despite plastic consumption? Or is plastic consumption largely irrelevant?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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