Small actions can add up and make a big difference.
The Invisible Assault of Microplastics: A Silent Problem Requiring Urgent Attention

Each day, each hour, each minute, we are consuming microplastics. This statement may sound alarming, but unfortunately, it's the reality. Increasingly, reports are warning that a person consumes, drinks, and breathes between 78,000 and 211,000 microplastic particles per year. While the impact of microplastics on human health has been studied for a quarter of a century, we still do not fully understand their harmful effects.

These plastic particles, measuring less than five millimeters, have penetrated nearly all aspects of our daily lives, from the water we drink to the air we breathe. Studies have found an average of 94 microplastic particles per liter of bottled water and 32 in beer. Even more alarming, the air we inhale contains an average of 9.80 microplastic particles per cubic meter. To give context, a person aged between 31 and 51 inhales an average of 16 cubic meters of air per day.

Once ingested or inhaled, microplastic particles can be transported through our body via the bloodstream. Although it has been shown that microplastics can cause allergic reactions and cell death, there have not yet been epidemiological studies documenting a correlation between microplastic consumption and health problems in a significant group of people.

This deficit in our understanding of microplastics and their impact on human health is concerning. Despite this, the response from society and governments has been, on the whole, apathetic. It's as if we are ignoring an environmental and health time bomb that is about to explode.

It is crucial that we increase research efforts in this field. We need to better understand how microplastics affect our bodies, and how they might be contributing to chronic diseases and other health problems. It is equally important that we start taking steps to reduce the amount of plastics we produce and consume.

This not only involves significant changes at the policy and industry level but also changes at the individual level. For example, we can opt for tap water instead of bottled water, or use cleaning and beauty products that do not contain microplastics. Small actions can add up and make a big difference.

Microplastics are an invisible, but very real problem. We cannot see them, but they are there, in the water we drink, the food we eat, and the air we breathe. It's time that we take this problem seriously and work together to find solutions. The health of our planet and ourselves may depend on it.

These plastic particles less than 5 millimeters wide are ubiquitous in our environment, having been found in places as diverse as the Mariana Trench and the summit of Mount Everest. They are also increasingly being found within the human body itself. Several studies have confirmed that these tiny particles can indeed be absorbed into the human bloodstream.

The average person consumes between 78,000 and 211,000 microplastic particles per year. These particles can be ingested through common consumer products like bottled water, beer, sugar, and salt. The largest source of microplastics in our bodies is bottled water, with an average of 94 particles per liter. Beer is the second largest source, while inhaled air is the third largest, containing an average of 9.8 microplastic particles per cubic meter.

Microplastics are all around us, present in our clothes, cosmetics, electronics, packaging, and many other everyday items.

Plastic particles can also be intentionally added to cosmetics like lipstick, lip gloss, and eye makeup to enhance their feel and finish, as well as to personal care products for their cleansing and exfoliating properties. These particles end up in the sewage system when washed off and can then end up in the sewage sludge from wastewater treatment plants, which is used to fertilize agricultural lands, or even in treated water released into waterways.

Despite their prevalence, the health effects of microplastics in the human body are not yet fully understood. Some studies have suggested they may cause allergic reactions and cell death, but there are still no epidemiological studies documenting a correlation between microplastic consumption and health problems in a large group of people.

Microplastics have become an undeniable and ubiquitous presence in our environment and, most alarmingly, within our own bodies. The scale of human consumption of microplastics, largely unconscious and involuntary, is bewildering. Nonetheless, we are still navigating in a sea of uncertainty regarding long-term impacts on human health.
This brings us to a turning point, an urgent call to action. We can't afford to be passive spectators of such a pervasive and potentially harmful phenomenon. We need more research to unravel the consequences of the microplastics invasion and, above all, we need effective and sustainable strategies to mitigate plastic pollution.

It's time for society as a whole, from consumers to producers, and from lawmakers to scientists, to recognize the magnitude of this problem. It's time to rethink our dependence on plastic, to reinvent the materials we use, and to reimagine a world where the balance between human progress and environmental integrity is not threatened by microscopic particles of our own creation. This is our challenge, and the future of our planet and our health may depend on how we face it.

 

Statista (2023). Número medio de partículas microplásticas encontradas por gramo, litro, m³ de consumibles seleccionados. Recuperado de https://es.statista.com/grafico/28888/numero-medio-de-particulas-microplasticas-encontradas-por-gramo-litro-m3-de-consumibles-seleccionados/
Statista (2023). Procedencia de los microplásticos en los océanos del mundo. Recuperado de https://es.statista.com/grafico/17991/procedencia-de-los-microplasticos-en-los-oceanos-del-mundo/
National Geographic (2022). ¿Qué daños producen los microplásticos para el ser humano? Recuperado de https://www.nationalgeographic.es/medio-ambiente/2022/04/que-danos-producen-los-microplasticos-para-el-ser-humano
Cox, K., Covernton, G. A., Davies, H. L., Dower, J. F., Juanes, F., & Dudas, S. E. (2019). Human Consumption of Microplastics. Environmental Science & Technology, 53(12), 7068-7074. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.9b01517

COMMENT

A Alice Hooffmans

Do microplastics stay in the body and accumulate or are excreted?

11 months ago

COMMENT


A Antoin Perrin

Our lives and health are at risk and only laws and lifestyles are the best solutions.

11 months ago

COMMENT


S Sandi Walters

Microplastics can come from a variety of sources including larger plastic pieces that have broken apart, resin pellets used for plastic manufacturing, or in the form of microbeads, which are small, manufactured plastic beads used in health and beauty products.

9 months ago

COMMENT


M Marie

Plastic pollution is everywhere. Its dimensions are very wide and it has affected our lives. A suitable alternative to plastic should be prioritized.

9 months ago

COMMENT


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