Plastics are as convenient as they are ubiquitous, meaning they are everywhere. This is becoming a huge problem for our health as studies show that we breathe in and consume microplastics in quantities that can result in cell damage or cell death.
Beyond the damage to our environment, plastics damage our overall well-being. Yet, you will find plastics in food packaging, clothing, automobiles, bedding and mattresses, and so much more. It’s everywhere. As a society, we dispose of huge quantities of single-use plastics like water bottles and grocery bags.
How do microplastics get into our air and water?
Every time a plastic product becomes damaged in some way, it releases microparticles into our air. In the U.S., you will find clothing with synthetic plastic fibers that release microparticles when stretched. Car tires, brakes, and road surfaces contain plastics. Simply driving to run some errands causes plastics to be released into the air. Once in our air, the microparticles can remain in the atmosphere for around 6 days and travel thousands of miles. As consumers demand a disposable lifestyle, manufacturers produce more disposable products.
Microplastics trigger cell damage and cell death
Until recently, studies on plastics have focused on their effect on the environment and wildlife. The studies on the effects on humans have been inconsistent. Now, data on how plastic pollution and microplastics affect human health is producing evidence of the toxicity. Studies show an increase in inflammation and oxidative stress. Still, most studies have not examined the link between microplastic exposure and disease. More research is necessary.
A 2021 study published in the Journal of Hazardous Material found that microplastic substances damaged human cells in relation to the number of microparticles an individual ingested. This was the first study to show that microplastics trigger allergic reactions and cell death.
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