We have heard about the harmful impacts of plastics since the 1960s. However, the problem with plastic pollution has become so bad now that it is present in the water, food, and even in the air we breathe. Find out how you can protect yourself from the dangers of microplastics…
Ground-up plastics known as microplastics end up in the oceans and become airborne. These particles can then become a part of the atmosphere and make their way into the cities that we live in.
Researchers have even found microplastics in household dust!
This article is aimed at explaining what microplastics are, how they could be causing harm to your health and how you can avoid them - keep reading to find out.
Why are microplastics so dangerous?
Microplastics make their way from the oceans into the environment, and they are also making their way into our houses.
The first question most will have after finding out about microplastics is what dangers do microplastics pose to human health? Unfortunately, microplastics are associated with many health-related issues.
One threat to human health comes from breathing in microplastics, if a human being continues to breathe in these harmful particles, they can penetrate into the lung tissue and make worse lung diseases and even cancer.
But that’s not all, if the microplastics are small enough, they can make their way into the bloodstream and cause cardiovascular diseases and nervous system disorders.
Since plastic is known for being bio-persistent, its ground-up version (microplastics) can also stay in your lungs for a long period of time. Since your lungs can’t naturally get rid of microplastics, the risk posed by them to human health increases.
Microplastics may also be accompanied by bacteria and other harmful particles that shouldn’t be in the human body.
Textile workers who deal with nylon and polyester are known to develop frequent breathing issues. Problems such as coughing, breathlessness, and other breathing issues found in textile workers suggest a strong link between the inhalation of microplastics and lung issues.
How are microplastics formed?
Microplastics are formed when bigger plastic particles are broken down into smaller particles that can range between 5 millimeters to 100 nanometers in size.
The thing about plastics is that as they degrade, the already tiny particles of plastic can further degrade into microscopic particles.
As a result, these particles may become so small that they aren’t visible to the naked eye.
This is when microplastics are the most dangerous because they can end up in the lungs and other filtration systems of the human body.
What causes microplastic pollution?
Now that we know how are microplastics are formed and how small they can be, we can better understand the causes of microplastic pollution. In general, microplastic pollution is being caused by small particles of plastics getting airborne and ending up in the atmosphere and environment.
Microplastic waste is being produced from the following sources:
Plastics from bags and bottles: There is no shortage of plastic packaging found in most grocery stores. Unfortunately a lot of this packing ends up contributing to the problem of microplastics.
Vehicle tyres: When vehicle tyres make contact with the road, tiny plastic particles can be produced from the friction. These particles can get washed up into waterways and make their way into the waterways and eventually into the ocean.
Clothing: When synthetic clothes are washed, small particles of plastic get washed into the drainage. These particles also end up in the ocean.
Exterior paints: Exterior paint from road marking and buildings can get washed off these structures. These particles from paint contain plastic particles, which eventually end up in the ocean.
Beauty & self-care products: Other sources of microplastics are microbeads that are present in beauty and self-care products that are meant to exfoliate the skin. When these particles are washed off into the drainage systems, they can make their way into the oceans.
How are microplastics harmful to the ocean?
The most obvious impact microplastics have on the ocean is when marine life ingests or attempts to ingest the plastic debris.
Everything from small fish, turtles, whales, seabirds, and other marine mammals can eat plastic debris that can clog up their stomachs. Fishes and turtles can die of starvation as their stomachs can’t digest plastic waste.
Suffocation is another threat plastic waste poses to marine life if the marine species try to swallow, plastic waste gets lodged in their throats and can cause suffocation. Not to mention fish can develop infections and injuries by coming in contact with these plastic wastes.
What foods contain microplastics?
Microplastics have been found in some common human foods. Here is a list of foods where microplastics have been found:
● Fruit & Vegetables
● Bottled Water
● Fish & Shellfish
Microplastics make their way into these food items through waterways and soil. And since most of our food comes from soil and oceans it doesn’t come as a surprise that microplastics have been found in such a wide range of foods.
How can we reduce exposure to microplastics?
Environmental groups are working hard to filter out the microplastics that have already made their way into our oceans and atmosphere. However, there are ways you can reduce exposure to microplastics:
● Try washing your plastic-based clothes with your hands or using filters that catch microplastics in your washing machines. Even better, buy clothes made from natural materials, so you don’t have to wash plastic-based clothing in the first place.
● Use public transportation to reduce the number of tires on the roads that can shed microplastic particles.
● Stop using single-use plastics to reduce the amount of plastic waste that can result in an increase in the number of microplastics.
● Buy plastic-free cosmetics that don’t use beads for skin exfoliation.
If you are serious about reducing your exposure to microplastics, we are serious about helping you achieve just that. From reusable and refillable food packaging, all the way up to microplastic-free cleaning products, we make it possible for you to live a microplastic-free life.
You can visit Gram Sustainable today at 350 Brunswick St, Fitzroy in Melbourne, or our online store to equip yourself with everything you need to avoid microplastic exposure.