On the 24th of March 2022, a group of scientists published an article in the Environment International journal, named “Discovery and quantification of plastic particle pollution in human blood”1. In their research, they were able to find microplastics in human blood. This has been covered on large media like The Guardian, or NGOs like Greenpeace.
Microplastics are defined as being particles of plastics of less than five millimeters in diameter. As the research proved, they are now found in our bodies. In another scientific paper from the Environmental Science and Technology journal, called “Human consumption of microplastics”2, it was estimated that on average people ingest 50 000 particles by eating every year. There hasn’t been research about what happens in our bodies because of this plastic, but many are concerned. Microplastics can be ingested because of plastic food packaging, plastic water bottles, and it can be found in the food itself. One of the places microplastics are known to be, is in the Oceans. There is indeed an issue of plastic pollution, and microplastics are found in fish that are then consumed by regular customers. Microplastics are now everywhere, because it can also be transported in the air, and so we also breathe it. For now, it hasn’t been reported to be a major health issue, but it is important to realize that is still has the potential to harm our cells, and we don’t have the knowledge on whether it can be dangerous with long-term ingestion.
Today, it seems almost impossible to escape ingesting microplastics. However, there are ways to help and minimize it. For example, switching to regular kitchen plates and bowls (that are not made of plastic) to keep leftovers, or use bees wax (a good alternative to wrap food). Not buying fast fashion plastic made tissues is also helping, as with each wash of a synthetic material made from plastic, microplastics are released in the water. Using a metal water bottle instead of buying plastic bottles or using a reusable plastic water bottle is a good way to help against this issue.
Overall, it is important to be aware of this, and to spread the knowledge of these scientific advancements so that public interest may help found more research on how it impacts people’s health. Today nothing is proven to how bad it is for our own bodies, but it is impacting environments as the Ocean for example, where it can be ingested from the bottom of the food chain (plankton) and can be found afterward in bigger organisms, or just in the air or water. Trying to prevent using too much plastic in general is the best way to stop the spread of microplastics in the environment and protect ourselves from potential long-term health issues.
1 Heather A.Leslie, et al, “Discovery and quantification of plastic particle pollution in human blood”, Environment International 107199, 24/03/2022
2 Kieran D.Cox et al, “Human consumption of microplastics”, Environmental Science and Technology 05/05/2019