It’s probably not a piece of spinach you got stuck in your teeth, it’s probably plastic. According to a new study (published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology) on average, we could be ingesting up to 5 grams of plastic every week. Unless you’re a stoner or chef tryna envisage what 5 grams translates to might be difficult. Well, 5 grams is roughly the weight of your bank card. How’s that for siff news.
The study took the data from 26 previous studies that measured the amount of microplastic particles in fish, shellfish, sugar, salt, beer and water, as well as in the city air.
Of the consumables studied, the highest recorded plastic levels were found in shellfish, beer and salt. So sadly, you’re not even safe whilst smashing that after graft draught you so thoroughly deserve. What’s worse is that these may be an underestimate because the microplastic contamination of larger more staple food groups such as milk, rice, wheat, corn, bread, pasta and oils have yet to be studied.
“A lot of the items we considered are the ones you’re eating raw. We haven’t gotten to the layers and layers of plastic packaging. I think it’s probably the case that more plastic is being added than we realize. We don’t know a huge amount. There are some major data gaps that need to get filled,” said Kieran Cox, at the University of Victoria in Canada, who led the research.
Some of the best available data is on water, with bottled water containing 22 x more microplastics than tap water (on average). If you fall into the demographic that only drinks bottled water you could be consuming up to 130,000 particles per year from that source alone, compared with 4,000 from tap water.
For the most part, microplastic pollution is created by the breaking down of plastic litter and appears to be ubiquitous across the planet. At present, the health impacts of consuming microplastics are unknown, but they could release toxic substances as well as be endocrine disrupters.
Disturbingly, some pieces are small enough to penetrate human tissues, where they could trigger immune reactions. Basically it’s just more bad news to fuel an already raging fire that is the plastic crisis.
In the same light as air pollution or harmful construction materials, those who have a higher level of exposure may be at a greater health risk.
According to the research conducted, the most commonly found type of plastic was microfibers. Microfibers originate from textiles like nylon and polyester. They often wash off clothes and enter the ecosystem through grey water.
Cox says he hopes his research highlights that plastic pollution extends beyond marine wildlife. “We haven’t considered ourselves to be a potential impact (of plastic pollution),” he says, “but we are.”
“These findings must serve as a wake-up call to governments. If we don’t want plastic in our bodies, we need to stop the millions of tons of plastic that continue leaking into nature every year. In order to tackle the plastic crisis, we need urgent action at the government, business and consumer levels, and a global treaty with global targets to address plastic pollution,” said Marco Lambertini, WWF International Director-General.
In the end, the facts are simple. We are producing a lot of plastic and it is ending up in the ecosystems, which we are a part of.
P.S – Interested in putting a number on how much plastic you’re grazing, then CLICK HERE
While you at it, next time you go for a surf or even a dip, bring along a Tuffy bag and remove some of that plastic kak you see littering the shoreline. Snap a shot, send it our way as an entry into the Tuffy Clean Your Beach campaign and stand a chance to win a fresh new custom board from M*A*T Surfboards.