TechThe Ubiquity of Plastic: From Our Food to Bottled Water

The Ubiquity of Plastic: From Our Food to Bottled Water

water being poured from a water bottle

Nowadays, there is an increasing evidence that addresses the presence of nanoplastics and microplastics in our blood, intestines, and even some organs, reinforcing the notion that we are what we eat.

In two new studies released this week, attention is drawn to the shocking number of tiny plastic particles that people are consuming each day.

Researchers have discovered that a liter of bottled water could contain around a quarter million of the smallest plastic particles known as nanoplastic. These tiny particles are so minuscule that some manage to pass through the intestines and lungs, and can even make their way into human blood and placental fluid. The study on bottled water conducted by researchers at Columbia and Rutgers Universities was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (source).

Similarly, a fellow research published Monday in the journal Environmental Pollution by scientists at the University of Toronto and the Ocean Conservancy found that nearly 90 percent of 16 different kinds of protein commonly consumed by people, including seafood, chicken, beef, tofu, and veggie burgers, contain microplastics (source).

The scientists estimated that Americans are consuming up to 3.8 million particles of microplastics per year from protein alone.

George Leonard, chief scientist at the Ocean Conservancy, an environmental nonprofit and co-author of the Environmental Pollution paper, stated, “Our message is that you can’t hide. We need to know more about this, clearly, and the health implications. There is zero chance that exposure to plastics is good for you. The question is, what is the magnitude of the risk and how do you minimize that?”

These studies add to a growing body of scientific research that has highlighted the prevalence of micro- and nanoplastics in various environments, including human bodies.

While researchers are still working on unraveling the health implications, many, like Leonard, believe that they are not favorable.

Last year, the United Nations Environment Program released a report noting the presence of 13,000 chemicals in plastic, many of which are toxic (source). Chemical additives used to provide different properties to plastic are potentially hazardous. The report concluded that at least 3,200 of the 7,000 screened chemicals have been identified as potentially of concern. (source)

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