WWF study: You could be ingesting 5g of plastic a week

Elias Hubbard
Июня 12, 2019

The average person now ingests five grams of plastic each week, the equivalent of a credit card, a new report by WWF has found. Researchers found that people are consuming up to 102,000 tiny pieces of plastic of less than 1mm - 250 grams each year - with almost 90 per cent coming from water, both bottled and tap.

This plastic contamination comes from "microplastics" - particles smaller than five millimeters - which are making their way into our food, drinking water and even the air.

The study was commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and carried out by the microplastics research team at Australia's University of Newcastle.

These tiny particles can originate from a variety of sources, including artificial clothes fibers, microbeads found in some toothpastes, or bigger pieces of plastic which gradually break into smaller pieces when they're thrown away and exposed to the elements.

Microplastics have been detected in marine life and other animals, which are in turn, ingested by humans. Almost invisible bits of polymer were also found in beer and salt.

Mr Lambertini said the issue was a global problem which could only be solved by addressing the root cause of plastic pollution.

"Since 2000, the world has produced as much plastic as all the preceding years combined, a third of which is leaked into nature", the report said.

One study confirmed that bottled water from groundwater sources was mostly free of plastics, Dr Palanisami said. But there could be large regional variations.

Researchers found that water in the United States and Lebanon had on average 4.8 and 4.5 fibres per 500 millilitres respectively, compared to 1.9 fibres per 500 millilitres in both Europe and Indonesia. It analysed 26 research papers and found that people are consuming at least 50,000 pieces of microplastic a year.

The study focused on microplastic less than 1mm in size, which are the most commonly ingested contaminants.

What is the health risk?

According to an article published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, our understanding of the potential human health effects from exposure to microplastics 'constitutes major knowledge gaps'.

It collated the findings of 50 global research papers in an attempt to provide an accurate calculation of ingestion rates.

"There is very large uncertainty about the harms that plastics do", he said.

But if microplastics are shown to damage human health, it will be very hard to remove them from the environment.

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