Plastic is the most prevalent sort of marine debris found in our ocean and Great Lakes. Plastic debris can come in all shapes and sizes, but “Microplastic” is considered those that are less than 5mm in length (or about the size of a sesame seed).
Microplastics aren’t a specific kind of plastic, but rather any sort of plastic fragment. They enter natural ecosystems from many sources, including cosmetics, clothing, and industrial processes.
Microplastics are common in our world today. In 2014, it had been estimated that there are between 10 and 50 trillion individual pieces of microplastic in the world’s oceans, which has an estimated weight between 92,000 and 235,000 metric tons.
What Are Microbeads?
Microbeads are very small, solid, rebuild plastic particles that are less than 5mm and do not dissolve in water. A variety of items, including rinse-off cosmetics, personal care and cleaning products, can be added to them. For a number of purposes, microbeads are used as ingredients in these products. This includes a bulking agent as an abrasive or exfoliant, for controlled timed release of active ingredients, and for extending shelf life. They are a relatively inexpensive ingredient as well.
Most wastewater treatment systems do not capture microbeads. They will end up in rivers, lakes and oceans if drains are washed down after use.
How Does Microplastic Affect Health?
Experiments show that marine species, as well as turtles and birds, are harmed by microplastics – They obstruct digestive tracts, decrease the desire to eat, and modify feeding behavior, all of which decrease growth and reproductive production. Some animals are starving and dying, their stomachs stuffed with plastic.
A recent research study by researchers at Newcastle University in Australia found that the average person absorbs about 5g of plastic from the water per week. However, as another study has shown that it contains 22 times more microplastic particles than tap water and they are found in 93 percent of bottled water brands, the alternative is not to turn to bottled water.
This result is backed by studies from the University of Victoria in Canada. On average, relative to tap water users, people consuming bottled water consume 90,000 additional plastic particles per year. Microplastics can also be consumed by consuming fish, shellfish, salt, and alcohol in addition to drinking water.
It is difficult for health agencies to provide recommendations on this subject without long-term empirical evidence. Last year, the World Health Organization released a study concluding that, at current levels, microplastic particles in drinking water are not detrimental to human health. However, it also admitted that the recommendation was focused on insufficient evidence and called urgently for further studies and a global decrease in plastic use.
7 Tips To Curtail Risks Of Microplastics –
- Drink water from your tap. Drinking water is one of the biggest contributors to microplastic ingestion, but bottled water has about double the microplastic level of tap water, according to Sherri Mason, sustainability coordinator at Penn State Behrend and a chemist who has studied plastic in tap water, beer, sea salt, and bottled water.
- Filter your Tap water. According to Tap Water, researchers say that microplastics are in as much as 94% of U.S. tap water, and 72% of tap water in Europe. Filtering your water will decrease your intake of microplastics
- Don’t heat food in plastic. It has been recognized that heated plastics leach chemicals into food. It’s also advised by the American Academy of Pediatrics not to place plastic in your dishwasher.
- Minimize household dust. Household dust, Flaws says, will expose people to chemicals, including phthalates, per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, and flame retardants. According to the Silent Spring Institute, vacuuming periodically may help decrease household dust exposure.
- Eat more fresh food. Although the levels of microplastics in fresh produce have largely been untested, according to the AAP, these items are less likely to expose you to unnecessary chemicals, particularly when compared to something wrapped in plastic.
- Avoid beauty products with Microbeads. Microbeads are small pieces of plastic added to some health and beauty products, such as tubes of toothpaste and facial scrubs, NOAA writes. You may help deter producers from using them while reducing your own exposure to plastics by restricting or eliminating products with microbeads.
- Try to limit eating Meat & Fish. Researchers claim that marine organisms and certain land species, such as chicken, are eating microplastics, The Conversation writes. Since microplastics seem to be entering the food chain, limiting your meat and fish intake may help reduce your exposure, if you can.