HEALTHPLAN MAGAZINE

Study Reveals That Plastics Have Entered The Human Food Chain Health News

A recent study has revealed the full extent in which our food supply chain has become contaminated with plastics and how we are all consuming them on a daily basis.

The small study involved just eight participants from different countries ranging from Japan, Russia, UK, Italy, Finland, Poland, Austria and the Netherlands.

Stool samples were taken from each of the participants and results indicated that there were up to 20 microparticles found in every 10 grams of stool taken from each of them. In total, nine different types of plastics were discovered.

The tiny specs of plastic ranged in size from between 50 to 500 micrometers with scientists believing that it was highly probable that the plastics originated from a combination of food sources such as seafood and other sources including dust, plastic bottles and plastic food wrappings.

The most common plastics found were Polypropylene (PP) and Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), which is most commonly found in plastic bags and bottles. These two made up 95% of the plastics found in the samples.

This has lead experts to believe that microplastic contamination has become more and more widespread and that the human food chain is one of the most likely culprits when it comes to contamination.

Each of the participants in the study also kept a diary of their daily habits and it is believed that the they were all exposed to the microplastics by way of a combination of plastic drinking bottles, plastic-wrapped foods and the everyday foods that they consumed. None of the participants were vegetarians with six eating seafood on a regular basis.

Head researcher in the study, Dr Philipp Schwabi of the Medical University of Vienna said, "Of particular concern is what this means to us, and especially patients with gastrointestinal diseases.

"While the highest plastic concentrations in animal studies have been found in the gut, the smallest microplastic particles are capable of entering the bloodstream, lymphatic system and may even reach the liver.

"Now that we have first evidence for microplastics inside humans, we need further research to understand what this means for human health."

Where Are the Plastics Coming From?

It’s believed that between two and five percent of all plastics end up in our oceans including plastic bottles and carrier bags.

This in turn is consumed by the fish and other sea life that many of us eat, thus entering the human food chain and ending up on our dinner plates.

But it doesn’t stop there! Microplastics have also been found in tap water, bottled water and even in some beers.

Although there is no published evidence at this time to suggest the level of damage such particles could be having on the human body, I think we can all agree that it cannot be a good thing and that we must all do our bit to help eradicate plastics from our environment before it is too late.

How Can We Make a Difference?

There are many ways in which we can all help to reduce the plastics that we use. These include:-

  1. Use a reusable shopping bag or ‘bag for life’ instead of purchasing new ones each time you shop.
  2. Top up your water bottle instead of buying new each time. In the UK, around 13 billion plastic bottles are used each year, which means that they are a significant problem globally in the fight against plastics.
  3. Purchase products such as detergents in boxes instead of plastic bottles.
  4. Use matches instead of disposable plastic lighters.
  5. Buy refills for your coffee, soaps, herbs and spices.
  6. Use a reusable lunch box instead of disposable plastic ones.
  7. Use a razor with replaceable blades instead of disposables.
  8. Find an alternative to cling film such as biodegradable versions that are now available or use tupperware.
  9. Consume freshly squeezed juice instead of juice in plastic bottles.
  10. Use a bar of shower soap instead of shower gels in plastic containers.
  11. Don’t use plastic straws as they are a big problem when it comes to plastic waste. Use a biodegradable paper version or glass straws that you can reuse.
  12. If you have to use plastics, make sure you recycle them, which will help to reduce the amount that is produced.

This is just a handful of ways that we can all make a difference. If you search online you will find many more.