For years, scientists have been warning against plastic pollution — especially microplastics.
Microplastics are tiny particles from degraded plastic products that have ended up in just about every ecosystem around the world.
Researchers have found these tiny particles of plastic in salt, water, fish, whales, and birds.
But get this:
A study found these microplastics in human poop, too.1
That’s right — particles of plastic were found in human stool samples, which means we’re consuming plastic and excreting at least some of it.
Co-authors Bettina Liebmann of Environment Agency Austria and Philipp Schwabl of the Medical University of Vienna discovered nine different types of plastic polymers ranging in size from 50 micrometers to 5 millimeters, though they aren’t sure of the exact origin of these particles.
Some experts believe this could be a serious health concern.
Since the smallest particles can even be absorbed into the organs and bloodstream, microplastics have the potential to wreak havoc throughout the entire body.
“For me, it shows we are eating our waste,” said ecologist Chelsea Rochman of the University of Toronto. “Mismanagement has come back to us on our dinner plates. And yes, we need to study how it may affect humans.”2
Can microplastics cause health problems? What about the chemicals, additives, and dyes in these plastics? Are our bodies absorbing these toxins? These are important questions that need to be answered.
The truth is, since this is a relatively new problem we’re facing, scientists aren’t entirely sure how much damage microplastics can cause just yet.
But what we know so far is that plastic has often proven to be fatal to wildlife — from the smallest microorganisms to the largest mammals.
Microplastics have been found in more than 110 species of marine animals. In most cases, these plastics cause damage to their reproductive and circulatory systems.
With these effects on animals, it’s not unlikely that the microplastics are harmful to humans, too.
But how did these microplastics end up taking over our environment anyway?
Well, each year, roughly 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean. Most of this is single-use plastic such as plastic bags, bottles, wrappers — anything that is used only once before being disposed of.
Once these plastics are in the ocean, sunlight and waves break them down into microplastics over time.
But that’s not all. Microplastics can also come straight from our homes.
When we use our washing machines to clean synthetic fabrics made from plastic such as polyester and acrylic, microplastic particles are flushed out into the environment and can even end up in our fresh water.
Microplastic doesn’t only pollute the ocean and our fresh water supplies; it also pollutes the air.
Simply rubbing a synthetic fabric made from plastic releases microplastics into the air.
Could this cause damage to our respiratory systems over time? This is what researchers hope to find out in future studies.
But what we do know is that microplastic pollution has become out of control, and we should avoid single-use plastics and synthetic fabric until these questions are answered.
To your health,
President, Longevity Insider HQ