What are Microplastics & How Does Plastic Harm Human Health?
Tiny, nanoparticles of plastic are far worse for you and the planet. Learn all about microplastics
The world produces more than 300 million tons of plastics a year. Plastic production is increasing by roughly 3 per cent annually and is expected to double in the next 20 years. Half of all plastics become waste after four or fewer years of use. As a result, the plastic waste problem is increasing day by day.
It takes hundreds or even thousands of years for plastics to decompose naturally; studies show that 90 per cent of garbage in the ocean is made up of plastic. Small particles are called microplastics because they are less than five millimetres long and can be found in all bodies of water, from the most remote mountain streams to the deepest oceans.
In this blog, we will explore what are microplastics, where can they be found, and how microplastics affect human health.
Hi there! Conscious Charcha is discussing Plastic as a topic this July. Expect a lot of plastic-free content the entire month. Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and get an email whenever new content is posted!
Microplastics are pieces of plastic less than five millimetres long. Smaller than a penny coin, these tiny plastic bits break off from larger pieces of plastic, such as bags, bottles, or synthetic fabrics. They can also come from the breakdown of larger pieces of plastic that have been in the environment for a long time.
You may have heard that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is made up of 80 per cent microplastics. That’s true, but there’s a lot more microplastic pollution in water, air, and soil around the world. Microplastics are a type of plastic pollution.
Why Are Microplastics Such a Big Problem?
Microplastics are a big problem because they can easily get into the environment and travel far. Because of their size, these particles can easily make their way into bodies of water. They are also easily consumed by wildlife, which could have harmful effects.
When people consume microplastics, they can also have negative health effects. Some researchers think that microplastic particles can travel from the digestive tract to other parts of the body, including the liver and the lymph nodes. There is not enough research available to confirm these claims.
Where do Microplastics Come From?
Microplastics come from a few different places. The most common sources are synthetic fabrics, such as fleece jackets or yoga mats, which shed tiny plastic fibres when they are washed. Natural fabrics, like cotton, only shed very small amounts of plastic.
Plastic waste that is improperly disposed of can break down into microplastics. When plastic is put in the environment, it does not go away. Instead, it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces over time. These small pieces of plastic are called microplastics.
In addition, microplastics can come from larger pieces of plastic that have been in the environment for a long time. Microplastics can also come from the breakdown of larger pieces of plastic that have been in the environment for a long time.
Where can Microplastics Be Found?
Microplastics are found in all of the world’s oceans, great lakes, and other large bodies of water. They are also found in smaller bodies of water, such as streams and creeks, as well as in water that is not considered “water” at all.
In soil, microplastics are found in every region of the world. They are also found in the air, especially in places that have a lot of vehicles or industrial traffic.
Microplastics & Humans
Microplastics can very easily enter the human body. Research shows that microplastics can travel from the digestive tract to other parts of theIt’sct, humans may be consuming anywhere from 39,000 to 52,000 microplastic particles a year, according to National Geographic.
Studies have found microplastic in the lymph nodes of people around the world. Not all of the microplastic found in the digestive tract or other parts of the body comes from food. When people wash synthetic fabrics, tiny fibres are shed. These microfibers go down the drains and into the environment.
Microplastic also enters through the nose and mouth as it is present in the air. Microplastics are found in the air as well. Some of these microplastics are removed from the air by breathing. The other types of microplastics that enter the body as a result of breath are found in the pharynx and stomach.
Microplastic can affect nearly every organ in our bodies, including the intestines, lungs, skin and mucous membranes, eyes, hair follicles, breasts, bones and teeth. A study found that microfiber could cause chronic inflammation of the larynx and vocal cords.
More recently, microplastics were detected in human placentas. Microplastics were found in all placental portions: maternal, fetal and amniochorial membranes. This shows that microplastics can be transferred from the mother to the baby and harm human health from birth.
Microplastics & Harm to Human Health
Several studies have been conducted on the effects of microplastics on human health. New research is being conducted every day to understand the full expanse and damage microplastics can cause.
One study found that exposure to microfibers was associated with an increased risk for cancer of the lungs, oesophagus and liver. A study also found that microplastics could cause blood clots to form in large arteries and veins.
People who were exposed to microfibers in their food or clothing were also more likely to develop heart disease than those who had never been exposed to them. Still, more research is needed to figure out how microplastics affect human health.
Microplastics are a type of plastic pollution. Since it is hard to trace and detect microplastics, they are far more dangerous than plastic products. Thus, we need to be cautious, and aware to curb the use of plastics as much as possible.
A future with plastics is not just scary but also grim for the future generation. We want to leave behind a better world and plastic does not belong in it.
Conscious Charcha is discussing Plastic as a topic this July. Expect a lot of plastic-free content the entire month. Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and get an email whenever new content is posted!
Sanjoli is currently working as a Content Strategist and has a Master’s degree in Fashion Journalism. She has contributed to publications like MensXP, Mindless Mag and Sustain: The Mag in the past. Conscious Charcha is her way of learning more about sustainability and spreading the word about a sustainable lifestyle.
FAQs about Microplastics
Microplastics are pieces of plastic less than five millimetres long. They can also come from the breakdown of larger pieces of plastic that have been in the environment for a long time.
Yes, microplastics can severely harm human health. Microplastic can affect nearly every organ in our bodies, including the intestines, lungs, skin and mucous membranes, eyes, hair follicles, breasts, bones and teeth.
1. Reduce the consumption of plastic products.
2. Be aware of hidden plastics in clothes, foods etc. and avoid them
3. Regularly dust and vacuum to avoid inhalation