We eat 52,000 plastic particles every year

James Marshall
June 7, 2019

Food is contaminated with plastic, which means it's going directly into our bodies.

Other recent studies have shed light on the ubiquity of microplastics in people's bodies. They found acceptable data on plastic concentrations in seafood, added sugars, salts, beer, water and air, but none on grains, vegetables, beef and poultry. A new study estimates that people who drink bottled water ingest 90,000 additional plastic microplastic particles annually, compared to those who drink tap water, which puts only an extra 4,000 particles into their bodies.

The average American consumes 1,314,000 calories, 152 pounds of sugar - and more than 74,000 microplastic particles every year. That's because the 26 studies used in the evidence review involved food sources that only reflect about 15 percent of people's daily diet, he noted.

However, it's tough to accurately calculate the amount of plastic people consume, noted the lead author of the new study, Kieran Cox.

If you live somewhere with clean, safe tap water, relying less on bottled water is a great place to start reducing your plastics exposure, Cox says. Using U.S. dietary guidelines and respiration rates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the researchers then estimated how many microplastics Americans were consuming just from these foods and from breathing. While another says we could be eating more than 100 pieces of plastic per meal. "We have a small portion of it". "We know these are in ecosystems, we know they're in us, but it's only been a topic of concern for a handful of years".

This time around, the researchers found that the number of microplastics in your diet will vary, depending on factors like age, sex, and, of course, personal food preferences and restrictions.

"It's a crisis that is not only blighting our landscapes and oceans but affecting the food we eat and the water we drink".

Several previous studies have shown how microplastics may enter the human food chain, including one past year that found them in almost all major bottled water brands sampled.

That's because bottled water is exposed to plastic in a number of different ways, both during processing and as it sits in its plastic bottle waiting for someone to take a swig, Cox said.

"This doesn't mean that there are no negative health effects, it's possible there are and they just haven't been found, but imminent danger is very unlikely".

There's a chance that harmful chemicals in the plastic might leach out of the particles as they pass through the body, Spaeth said.

Some particles also might lodge in the body following inhalation or ingestion, causing immune system responses and cellular damage, the researchers added. "This study points out there's an accumulation of these particles at pretty high numbers".

"Given methodological and data limitations, these values are likely underestimates", the study, published in the Environmental Science & Technology journal, said. Pairing this data with the USA dietary guidelines, the scientists calculated how many particles people were likely to consume annually.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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