Plastic pollution is one of the defining legacies of our modern way of life, but it is now so widespread it is even finding its way into fruit and vegetables as they grow.
New research shows plastic pollution isn’t limited to the ocean and landfills. It’s all around us and people are eating and drinking it.
Scientists are rushing to study the tiny plastic specks that are in marine animals — and in us.
The impacts to our bodies remain murky, but early findings suggest the smallest bits could cause harm.
Microplastics are a major threat, and a prime source is your washing machine.
The omnipresent plastic is rife in dust, rice, placentas and tap water, but experts say it’s hard to untangle whether it’s harmful to humans.
The distribution and abundance of microplastics into the world are so extensive that many scientists use them as key indicators of the recent and contemporary period defining a new historical epoch: The Plasticene.
Plastics have for years been used to make nearly everything that surrounds us. But along the way, they escaped the confines of packaging and objects and settled in the environment, the food we eat and the air we breathe.
People across the world unwittingly consume roughly 5 grams of plastic each week in the course of daily life, or about the weight of a credit card, according to Australian researchers. That’s about 250 grams per year—more than a half-pound of plastic every 12 months.
Microplastics are found in the most remote places on land and in the ocean as well as in our food. Now several studies around the world have confirmed they are also present in the air we breathe.
Microplastic pollution is best known as a pollutant in oceans, lakes and rivers. But microplastics also have an impact on land: they can break down the structure of soil and harm the creatures that live there, for example when it is ingested by earth worms.
A collection of new research provides more clues about where and how microplastics are spreading.
Polyester and nylon seem to be common sources.
Microplastics are tiny fragments of plastic, often too small for the eye to see. They're created as plastic degrades.
And they're everywhere. They're in oceans, thanks to plastic garbage. They're in fish. They find their way into the water we drink in various ways, from surface runoff and wastewater effluent to particles deposited from the atmosphere.
There’s mounting evidence that it’s a health hazard.
Microfibers from synthetic clothing can make their way into seafood and drinking water every time the garments are washed.
Fish is high in Omega-3 fatty acids which are essential fats, meaning the body cannot produce them on its own and they must be sourced from the food we eat. Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial to heart health, are instrumental in preventing stroke and may help control a host of other health conditions. However, the flip side of eating more fish is a tiny problem 5 millimeters or less in diameter: microplastics.
The highest levels of microplastics are found more than 650 feet below the surface.
What would you like with your tea? How about some honey? Perhaps some milk? Maybe a lemon twist? What about billions and billions of micro- and nano-sized plastic particles?
There’s “no nook or cranny” on the planet where it doesn’t end up, the lead researcher on a new study said.
The problem of plastic pollution can seem really removed from everyday life—until you realize you’re literally sprinkling plastic onto your food. A new study that tested 39 different salt brands from around the world identified microplastics in 36 of them, or 92 percent. It’s a stark reminder of how our addiction to single-use plastics is leaching into our ecosystems.
What do the climate emergency, the obesity crisis and the covid-19 pandemic all have in common? All of them are existential challenges that were predicted by scientists and neglected by many until the world had no choice but to act.
Yet there is one looming global issue that we can pre-empt without waiting for the damage to mount and the impact to become irreversible: microplastic pollution.