At this point, it is likely you’ve already heard about microplastics and their negative impact on the environmeny. But did you know that these tiny pieces and fragments of plastic are extremely unhealthy for us as well? Since they’re so commonly found in oceans, rivers, and even the air, not only are they damaging our environment, but they’re directly affecting our health in multiple ways. So how exactly are microplastics getting into our systems?
Ingestion Through Contaminated Food
One of the main issues at play here is the fact that microplastics have found their way into the food chain, which directly impact us through the foods we eat. Since marine life inadvertently consumes these damaging particles, when we consume seafood that’s already ingested microplastics, we are also consuming them. The transference of these particles is already alarming many health experts and unknown long term implications are quite concerning.
Breathing It In
In addition to consuming microplastics in our foods, there are also particles found in the air that we are breathing in. There have been studies that show that they’re especially present in urban settings, and just being in an environment with microplastics in the atmosphere can mean inhaling them and introducing them into our respiratory systems, causing a negative impact on our health.
In addition to being in large bodies of water and the air, since microplastics are so small, they can actually also absorb other harmful chemicals, making the damage even worse when we consume these particles. That means that in addition to the issues from the microplastics themselves, other toxins are also being introduced into our bodies, which will also cause damage to our health including hormonally, developmentally, and increasing chances of diseases like cancer.
Damaging The Immune System
One of the worst things about introducing microplastics into our bodies apart from everything already mentioned is the fact that these particles are so small, they can enter cells and damage cellular functions that are necessary for the body. They can wreak havoc in the gastrointestinal tract, interfering with nutrient absorption as well as potentially causing inflammation. Some studies have shown the potential damage to our overall immune systems from these plastics as well.
Long Term Implications
The reality is, while research is still in its infancy regarding microplastics, there’s no denying that they will cause extreme damage in the long term, even if it is unclear at the moment the scope of the damage. Some of the effects may emerge many years from now as a result of constant exposure. It is imperative for there to be more action taken against these particles infiltrating our lives, be it in the form of more regulation on plastic creation and disposal, and even governments stepping in to help.