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Microplastics: Are They Harmful?

There have been many talks regarding microplastics and their presence in our food and water supply. However, as research grows, scientists have also found that there is the presence of microplastics in our bodies.

What Are Microplastics?

Microplastics are tiny plastic particles that have at least less than five millimeters in diameter. According to National Geographic, there are at least two types: primary and secondary.

Primary microplastics are those designed for commercial uses like cosmetics, microfibers, and fishing nets. Secondary microplastics, however, result from the breakdown of large plastic items such as containers. Specific environmental processes, like sunlight radiation and the movement of ocean waves, cause this breakdown.

Why Are Microplastics a Problem?

Microplastics form a unique problem because, much like plastic items, they do not easily break down into safe particles. On average, most plastic products take hundreds or thousands of years to decompose fully.

The presence of microplastics in the oceans is caused by littering. However, they can also be a result of falling off ships or as a result of winds carrying these products into the sea during a storm. As they merge in the waters, marine animals consume these materials, which can harm their health and even cause death.

Despite various water treatment options readily available, researchers have found that standard water treatment procedures cannot remove microplastics easily. Moreover, these harmful particles can bind with other chemicals in the water, making it a deadly substance for everyone to consume.

Microplastics Are In Our Bodies: Are They Harmful?

Recent studies show a documented timeline of the presence of microplastics in all parts of the human lung, placental tissues, human breast milk, and even human blood.

The sad part is that it’s not exactly surprising. Considering that companies include microplastics in makeup and other cosmetic products for that added sheen, absorption into the body is possible. Additionally, microplastics have been detected in our food sources, including livestock and indoor air.

While there has yet to be a definite answer to what microplastics can do to our bodies, there are some concerns. For instance, accidentally inhaling microplastics can irritate and damage the lungs. In addition, certain microplastics bonded with harmful chemicals can affect the hormones.

While more research is needed, it’s certainly advisable to be mindful of our consumption (both in eating and shopping) and at least maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you’re concerned about whether there are microplastics in your body, consider telling your healthcare provider your concerns.

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