The Hidden Dangers of Microplastics: What We Know About the Health Risks

Cuppa tea microplastic?

Microplastics are plastic particles that are smaller than 5 millimeters in size and originate from various sources including cosmetic products, industrial processes, and the breakdown of plastic materials. These particles are of particular concern to human health, as they can be easily ingested and absorbed by the body.

Ingestion of microplastics has been linked to various health risks, such as inflammation of the gut lining, interference with nutrient absorption, and damage to organs and tissues. These particles can also accumulate in the body over time, leading to a variety of adverse health effects. Additionally, studies have shown that microplastics can act as carriers for hazardous chemicals, such as heavy metals, pesticides, and flame retardants, making them even more hazardous to human health.

A study published in Environmental Pollution outlines the dangers of phthalates in food packaging that can contribute to an increase in mortality rates due to cardiovascular disease, adult diabetes, thyroid cancer, and other serious illnesses.

Most plastic containers are made of PET, also known as polyethylene terephthalate. In time, PET will degrade into microplastics. These tiny particles easily get mixed into our marine ecosystem, salt, water, and food (e.g., fish that we eat that consumed these microplastics).

As microplastics enter our food chain, it means additives and substances from the manufacturing process (such as PET) along with pathogens or parasites that may be on the plastics are likely to be consumed. Ingesting them poses a health risk.

Unfortunately, the microplastics problem extends beyond marine life. The following two articles highlight the interesting findings of their respective studies. They are easy to read and quite thought provoking.

How dangerous is it for humans to ingest microplastics?

Tea drinker? You’ll want to read this one; it includes a list of everyday items which have been proven to contain microplastics.

We can we do?
We can reduce our exposure to microplastics by eliminating or at least reducing plastic use in our kitchen or homes. By doing this, we are reducing the amount of plastic that gets into the environment and food chain.

As for microplastics leaching into our foods from plastic containers, a safer choice is switching to glass and other eco-friendly products. There are many of glass products that are convenient to use and eliminate plastic contact with our food and, ultimately, with the environment.