Eating, drinking and breathing for years: Scientists find microplastics everywhere

Edited By: Tanisha Rajput
New Delhi, India Updated: Jul 03, 2022, 10:12 AM(IST)

While the health effects of plastic are not known, scientists are aware of the effects of the indoor and outdoor air pollution, which according to the Lancet Commission on pollution experts, resulted in deaths of nearly 6.7 million people in early 2019. (representative image) Photograph:( Others )

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In 2019, there were 460 million tonnes of plastic consumed, which is twice as much as 20 years earlier and only 10 per cent of it was recycled

Humans have left small plastic fragments all over the planet, from oceans to mountains. Every year millions of tonnes of plastic are created using fossil fuels and then the plastic enters the environment and break into tiny particles which choke marine life and the food chain. We have taken these microplastics into our bodies without even knowing the consequences. Plastic pollution places have become so common these days. One such instance of this can be the enormous “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” As per a shocking analysis released in the same year by the environmental charity WWF, on an average people consume and breathe in up to 5 grammes of plastic per week, reported by AFP.

Scientists recently discovered that plastics exist in the body, it is quite possible that humans have been ingesting plastic though food, drinking and breathing for many years. In 2019, there were 460 million tonnes of plastic consumed, which is twice as much as 20 years earlier and only 10 per cent of it was recycled. 

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The United Nations has started a process to create a legally binding agreement to address the global plastic crisis and warned that the world is facing pollution crisis and along with biodiversity and climate crisis. 

Jean-Francois Ghiglione, a researcher at the Laboratory of Microbial Oceanography in France in conversation with AFP said, “We did not imagine 10 years ago that there could be so many small microplastics, invisible to the naked eye, and that they were everywhere around us.” He also told that the scientists are currently finding microplastics in several human organs such as lungs, Speen, kidneys and even the placenta. 

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"Small microplastics invisible to the naked eye have deleterious effects on all the animals that we have studied in the marine environment, or on land," said Ghiglione.

Laura Sadofsky from the Hull York Medical School in the UK in conversation with AFP said that her team found polypropylene and PET (polythene terephthalate) in lung tissues and it was shocking to that how deep it was in the lungs and the size of the particles. 
Bart Koelmans, professor in Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality at Wageningen University said, " People cannot stop breathing, so even if you change your eating habits you will still inhale them. They're everywhere."

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One hypothesis that these microplastics could be responsible for human health and certain syndromes. While the health effects of plastic are not known, scientists are aware of the effects of the indoor and outdoor air pollution, which according to the Lancet Commission on pollution experts, resulted in deaths of nearly 6.7 million people in early 2019.

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(With inputs from agencies)

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