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Concerned About Microplastics?

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Lately, there has been a lot of talk about the pervasive problem of microplastics, and their subsequent effect on our health. Microplastics are tiny plastic particles that are less than 5 millimeters in size, roughly the size of a sesame seed or smaller. They can be divided into two main categories based on their source and size:

Primary Microplastics: These are manufactured as small plastic particles for specific purposes. Examples include microbeads used in personal care products like exfoliating scrubs and microfibers used in textiles like synthetic clothing. Primary microplastics can also come from industrial processes and activities like plastic pellet production and abrasive blasting.

Secondary Microplastics: These are formed through the breakdown of larger plastic items like bottles, bags, and packaging due to environmental processes such as weathering, UV radiation, and mechanical abrasion. Secondary microplastics can also result from the fragmentation of larger plastic debris by physical forces like waves and currents in the ocean.

Microplastics can be found in various environments, including oceans, rivers, lakes, soil, air, and even within organisms. They are pervasive pollutants with the ability to spread far and wide, impacting ecosystems and potentially entering the food chain.

Due to their small size, microplastics pose significant challenges for environmental cleanup and management. They can be ingested by marine life and terrestrial organisms, potentially causing harm at various levels of the food web. Additionally, microplastics have been found in drinking water, food products, and even the air we breathe, raising concerns about their potential impacts on human health.

Here’s why they’re a concern:

  • Ingestion: Microplastics can be ingested through contaminated food and water. Studies have found microplastics in seafood, drinking water, and even table salt. Once ingested, they can accumulate in the body over time.
  • Toxicity: Microplastics can absorb and concentrate toxic chemicals from the surrounding environment. When ingested, these chemicals can be released into the body, potentially causing harm. Some of these chemicals are known to disrupt hormones or have carcinogenic properties. They are similar to mycotoxins in this regard, which are also hormone-disrupting and carcinogenic. 
  • Inflammation and Tissue Damage: There’s evidence suggesting that microplastics can cause inflammation and damage to tissues once they enter the body, potentially leading to health issues. 
  • Translocation: Microplastics have been found to translocate from the gut to other organs in animals, and there’s concern that a similar process could occur in humans. This raises the possibility of microplastics causing harm to organs beyond the digestive system.

Overall, while the full extent of the health impacts are still being studied, there is growing evidence suggesting that they pose a risk to human health. Efforts to reduce plastic pollution and mitigate its impacts are essential to safeguarding our health. And while avoiding microplastics entirely can be challenging since they are so pervasive in the environment.

Here are several steps to minimize your exposure:

  1. Reduce Single-Use Plastics: Minimize your use of single-use plastics such as plastic bags, bottles, utensils, and straws. Opt for reusable alternatives made from materials like glass, stainless steel, or bamboo.
  2. Choose Natural Fibers: When purchasing clothing and textiles, opt for natural fibers like cotton, wool, and hemp instead of synthetic materials like polyester and nylon, which shed microplastics during washing.
  3. Filter Drinking Water: Use a water filter certified to remove microplastics to reduce your exposure to plastic particles in drinking water.
  4. Avoid Synthetic Cosmetics: Some personal care products, especially those containing microbeads, can contribute to microplastic pollution. Choose cosmetics and personal care items that are free from microplastics and microbeads.
  5. Minimize Plastic Packaging: Choose products with minimal or no plastic packaging whenever possible. Buy in bulk or choose products packaged in glass, paper, or cardboard.
  6. Be Mindful of Washing Clothes: Wash synthetic clothing items less frequently and consider using a microfiber-catching laundry bag or a washing machine filter designed to trap microplastics.
  7. Reduce Plastic Waste: Dispose of plastic waste responsibly by recycling and properly disposing of items to prevent them from entering the environment.


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5 Common In-Home Products You Should Avoid


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