There are tiny bits of plastic inside you and it’s damaging your health. Here’s what you can do about it.
You can’t see it. You can’t feel it. You didn’t taste it going in and you won’t feel it coming out. But trust me, it’s there. There are microscopic particles of plastic, microplastics, stuck in your digestive system. Even though you can’t feel it, these tiny pieces of plastic may make you ill. Let’s find out more about microplastics in your body. How did they get there? Why is it bad for your health? Finally, is there anything you can do about it?
Why is there plastic in your body?
These microplastics found their way into your body because of the things you eat and drink. It’s possible that some microplastics contaminated your food due to wear and tear of the container you bought it in. However, the most likely cause would be plastic pollution in the sea.Experts estimate 5% of all plastics produced end up in the sea. Anyone who watches current nature documentaries will know about the dangerous amount of plastic floating in our oceans. This pollution moves from the oceans into your body.
Small sea creatures consume plastic particles in the water. When these creatures are eaten by larger ones, plastic moves up the food chain. As a result, sea creatures eaten by humans, such as lobster, shrimp and tuna, have been found to contain meaningful amounts of plastic.Microplastic contamination in the sea also affects the composition of the sea salt which goes into your food. A study published in Environmental Science & Technology found 90% of salt brands around the world contain traces of plastic.Finally, there may be plastic in your drinking water, whether it’s from a tap or a bottle. A study by Orb Media found that an average litre of bottled water contains 10.4 plastic particles. There is much less plastic in the water that comes out of your taps. However, traces were detected.
How does plastic make you ill?
A recent study by the Medical University of Vienna analysed the faeces of 8 people from around Europe, after they had kept a food diary for a week. Every participant was found to have between 50 and 500 micrometres of up to 9 different variants of plastic in just 10 grams of their pooh. The most-found plastics were polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET). While it’s clear that some of the plastic we inadvertently consume is leaving our body in the usual way, experts believe that microplastics could be building up in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This is where it becomes harmful to your health.Not much is known yet about how microplastics inside the human body affect health, but in studies of fish, microplastics are thought to damage their immune system, leaving them more susceptible to bugs and viruses. Microplastics could also be affecting their reproductive systems and slowing growth.
What can you do about it?
Now you know there are microscopic pieces of plastic in your body, and they’re likely to be damaging your health, you’re probably wondering what you can do about it.It’s difficult. Everyone eats food and drinks water. Plus, nearly everything we buy uses plastic in some capacity. How do we avoid coming into contact with plastic? The only way you can make a difference is to change your plastic habits. Make an effort to use less plastic over the course of an average day. Urge others to do the same. When minimising the use of plastic becomes a movement, the world will listen and we can take steps to clean up our oceans.
Here are 5 steps you can take today to cut down on your plastic use:
- • Drink tap water, rather than bottled
- • Recycle as much as you can
- • Stay away from single-use plastic items, such as straws and cups
- • Buy your fruit and veg loose, rather than in plastic containers
- • Recycle as much as you can
Join the movement
At iYFA, we’re serious about reducing the amount of plastic pollution the human race creates. Whether it’s our bags, cups, straws and more, or our much-loved eco Boxes, all of our advertising channels are plastic-free, biodegradable and compostable. We’re about to take our mission to the next level, starting this November. We’re aiming to make the whole of the London Borough of Wembley plastic free. Yes, that includes the stadium! To stay in touch with everything we do at iYFA, subscribe to our mailing list (email@example.com) and make sure you follow the hashtag #PlasticFreeWembley.