A new study suggests that we are eating, swallowing or breathing roughly 2,000 pieces of microplastics each week, an amount equivalent to the weight of a credit card.
From the top of Mount Everest to the deepest oceans, we know that plastic garbage is everywhere on Earth. Now we know that it is also in us.
"Plastics not only pollute our oceans and waterways and kill marine life, it is in all of us and we cannot avoid consuming plastics," said Marco Lambertini of the World Wildlife Fund, which commissioned the study.
This plastic pollution comes from "microplastics," particles smaller than five millimeters, that are getting into our food, drinking water and even into the air, CNN said.
The study was carried out by the University of Newcastle in Australia. "While awareness of microplastics and their impact on the environment is increasing, this study has helped provide an accurate estimate of ingestion rates for the first time," said Thava Palanisami, associate researcher on the project and microplastic at the University from Newcastle. .
According to the study, most of the microplastics we ingest come from drinking water, but it is also found in other foods such as shellfish and salt. And also, sadly, beer.
The long-term effects of ingesting microplastics on the human body are not yet well documented, according to the study, but studies are underway to better understand the effects of plastic on our health.
Richard Lampitt of the UK's National Oceanography Center, who was not involved in the research, told CNN that it was difficult to assess the importance of ingestion rates without understanding the associated health risks. "There is great uncertainty about the damage plastics do," he said.
The worst What does this really mean for people's health?
"I wish all the bad was eating as much plastic as a credit card, because that is expelled in the feces," he says.Nicolas Olea, researcher and professor of Radiology and Physical Medicine at the University of Granada, who has been studying the health effect of certain plastic compounds for more than 30 years. "The important thing is the size of the particle, because if it has a minimum size, it can interact with some organic system."
This specialist calls attention to pieces of plastic that are even smaller than microplastics, which have been shown to have a negative impact on the human body and are not particles or nanoplastics, but monomers. Plastics are made up of giant molecules that are created by reactions in which many units of other small molecules, monomers, join together.
"There is a lot of attention all of a sudden on microplastics, of which we know very little, but nobody talks about the monomers of plastic, of which we know a lot," emphasizes Olea. “It's about bisphenol A, phthalates… Its toxicology is well known. Many of these monomers are endocrine disruptors, that is, they are hacking the signal of hormones. Estradiol, a female hormone, has a molecular weight of 250, it is a very small molecule that travels in the blood bound to proteins and that has a nuclear receptor and gives a message within the body, that of female sex hormones. Bisphenol A is a monomer in plastic that has a molecular weight of 200 and is almost identical in size, which is why they hack into the internal signals of nuclear receptors ”.
"We know that all Spanish children mean plastic, but not microparticles or nanoparticles, which mean are plastic monomers", highlights the researcher, who explains that plastic particles cannot reach the urine because they are too large to be filtered through the kidney.
Despite this, plastic pollution continues to rise
Regardless of the specific health risks, plastic pollution remains a growing problem around the world and shows no signs of slowing down - in fact, half of all plastic produced between 1950 and 2016 has occurred since 2000, according to the study. . "These findings should serve as a wake-up call to governments," Lambertini said. "Global action is urgent and essential to face this crisis."
The study, which did not appear in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, is titled "There is no plastic in nature: Assessment of plastic ingestion from nature to people."
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