06 Aug Methods of Microplastic Ingestion
As the usage of plastics becomes increasingly prevalent, more single-use plastics are accumulating in and polluting waterways. These plastics degrade and break down into smaller pieces, constituting microplastics, and pose mainly two ways they can lead to human ingestion.
Firstly, thousands of cities and regions draw their drinking water from waterways that are polluted with microplastics. Current filtration systems are not designed to filter out microplastics, resulting in plastic-ridden drinking water. A recent investigation conducted by Orb Media shows that 94% of tap water samples taken across the United States are contaminated with microplastics1.
Secondly, microplastics enter the human diet through biomagnification of the food chain. This means that when fish and other marine organisms ingest microplastics floating throughout the ocean, humans consume microplastics by eating these organisms, including fish and shellfish.
The ingestion of microplastics can lead to a multitude of health complications, many of which are still underresearched. However, recent developments prove they carry toxins into the human body and can cause cell damage2. Ultimately, tackling plastic pollution, one of the biggest environmental challenges of our time, will require governments and societies worldwide to diminish plastic use, regulate disposal, and innovate solutions.