Saturday, June 24, 2023

Microplastics are Everywhere.

What did you do the last hour? I went to the neighborhood coffee shop to grab a hot green tea and have some quiet time while waiting to go set up for a summer PD class I am teaching some school colleagues. Apparently I also inhaled 16.2 bits of micro plastics. Add that up, that amounts to an inhaled ingestion of microplastics per week, which is equivalent to the amount of plastic in a credit card. Yikes!

Sadly, it's not news (or shouldn't be) that we consume microplastics in our food. Plastic is everywhere. Fish consume plastic from marine debris in the seas. Unfortunately too, plastic can sometimes find its way into farm animals' feed. And, it has also been found in fruits and vegetables.  Those of us who eat (aka: all of us) end up eating whatever it was that they ate.  

Microplastics are classified as any plastic material that is less than 5 millimeters long. They can be produced intentionally (like glitter) or be by-products of degraded plastic.

I learned about this new way of taking in microplastics first by seeing this Instagram post from Plastic Pollution Coalition. From there I found the following article on IFLScience's UK-based website and written by Maddy Chapman: "We Inhale A Credit Card's Worth Of Plastic Each Week - Where Does It All Go?" (June 19, 2023). They referenced the Physics of Fluids study about inhalation of microplastics. The particles, once inhaled, larger were found in the upper airways, including the nasal cavity and the back of the throat. Over the course of a week, this amount totals to being about a credit card sized quantity. 

Thinking it through, not to be gross but that's a lot of icky plastic boogies and phlegm on top of ingested microplastics via food. (And yes, there are studies that indicates microplastics found in human waste and even human blood and breast milk.) Thinking all of THAT through, it certainly has the potential for major health concern over time. Even the thought of 52 credit cards stacked on the table to indicate a year, feels frightening when you consider that all ends up in your system--and all on the microbits of plastic that we eat by way of food consumptions! This definitely indicates we need to take a serious look globally at our plastic production and consumption to address the issue at hand.

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