5 Tips On How to Avoid the Dangers of Microplastic Toxicity
Plastic impacts us in more ways than we can even fathom. A recent study was conducted examining the many ways that microplastic toxicity negatively impacts us and our environment. In this article, we will take a thorough look at the study’s findings and how we can avoid the dangers of microplastic toxicity.
What Is Microplastic Toxicity?
You’ve probably heard about the havoc that plastic is wreaking on marine life and our oceans. Unfortunately, according to scientists, microplastics are also devastating to us. The clinical director of Treated.com, Dr. Daniel Atkinson, explains how microplastic consumption affects us in this apt analogy:
“We can think of microplastics in a similar way to sand. Grains of sand were once part of a larger structure of rock, and came to be after years of erosion and fragmentation - essentially breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces. The same is true of microplastics and much like sand, they are not going away any-time soon.”
According to an article by National Geographic, Elizabeth Royte wrote that microplastics have been found in 114 aquatic creatures. Researchers estimate that we consume about 60 of these species as popular seafood choices.
A joint study was conducted on microplastics by the Medical University of Vienna and the Environment Agency Austria estimating that over 50% of the world’s population have microplastics in their stools. Researchers arrived at this conclusion after an experiment that discovered 20 microplastic particles in every 10 grams of excrement.
In an annual report examining the broader impacts of pollution on human health, the UK’s Chief Medical Officer wrote that there is “an absence of toxicological data that has meant that effective risk assessment is not possible.”
However, the report did highlight three main areas of medical concern including physical toxicity, chemical toxicity, and lung damage. Elizabeth Royte believes that microplastics have the potential to cause liver damage in humans after evaluating certain species of fish, but there is no evidence to support this theory as of yet.
How Much Microplastic Do We Ingest?
An estimated 12.7 million tons of plastic is discarded in the ocean every year. Tragically, this statistic continues to rise. The majority of this plastic will eventually form microplastics. We all must do our part to eliminate plastic in our oceans, thereby protecting ourselves.
According to the study, people are consuming between 74,000 and 121,000 microplastic particles annually. The saddest part of these shocking statistics is that researchers believe this is a gross underestimate as their research accounted for only 15% of our caloric intake. To put it into perspective, we are consuming a credit card sized amount of plastic each week! Suddenly, microplastic doesn’t seem so “micro” anymore, does it?
Americans need to realize that plastic is the enemy. An enemy that is invading our water, air, soil, food supply, and bodies. Every time we use plastic, alarm bells should go off in our heads. Manufacturers won’t stop making plastic until our wallets stop funding it.
1. Limit Plastic Use
Have you ever thought about the hundreds of ways that plastic impacts your life on a daily basis? Convenience and plastic are irrevocably linked. We utilize plastic products to save time: fast food styrofoam and plastic containers, Keurig pods, disposable cups, plastic bags, saran wrap, plastic cutlery, Tupperware, plastic straws, water bottles… the list goes on and on.
There are so many recyclable resources we can utilize to replace plastic including glass, cork, wood, metal, hemp, canvas, bamboo, and paper.
Unfortunately, plastic is not entirely unavoidable unless you plan on not eating foods or using products that come in plastic containers, but the more we can limit our use of plastic as individuals, the better. This process begins by raising and developing awareness in ourselves and others. It is no longer just about the environment we exist in, but the body we live in every single day.
We can limit and reverse the toxic effects of plastic on our bodies and environment by reducing our use of plastic. Personally, I’ve tried to replace most of the plastic containers in my home with glass. I’ve purchased mason jars, glass water bottles, and glass storage containers. When you go out, bring a coffee thermos to reduce your use of styrofoam and plastic cups, bring paper or canvas bags for your groceries instead of using plastic bags, and throw a steel straw in your purse to use at restaurants rather than using plastic straws.
2. Be Wary of Your Drinking Water
Most of our water contains microplastics in some form, but those who exclusively drank bottled water added up to 90,000 microplastic particles to their estimated annual amount of ingested microplastics. If you drink water straight from your tap, it should be filtered to reduce the risk of microplastic toxicity.
3. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
Did you know that recycling rates in the United States are as low as 8.8%? The more we reduce, reuse and recycle, the less plastic will end up in our oceans and in our bodies.
4. Approach Fish and Seafood with Caution
You may want to limit your dietary consumption of fish and seafood. According to this study, microplastics are found in many species intended for human consumption including invertebrates, crustaceans, and fish. Researchers found that small fish consumed whole posed the greatest risk.
5. Don’t Use Just Any Table Salt
An alarming 92% of sea salt is contaminated by microplastics according to a recent study. Fortunately, there is a salt that tested 100% free of microplastics: Colima Sea Salt by Ava Jane’s kitchen. This laboratory-tested, handmade salt is produced in a controlled environment to ensure that microplastics do not intrude.
In conclusion, microplastic toxicity is a very serious threat to the world as we know it. Microplastic toxicity is a crisis that isn’t going away any time soon, and it is up to us to reverse the damage. To learn more about the dangers that microplastic toxicity poses, please click here.