The average person swallows up to 68,415 possibly dangerous plastic fibers a year, according to scientists who tested the particles that fall on our dinner plates.
We have been reporting on the startling accounts detailing how we are now drinking plastic nanoparticles in tap and bathing water, bottled water, beaches and through vegetation because plastic waste has made it into our soil.
While the oceans are polluted with plastics for sure, there is also a new kind of problem: fast fashion and synthetic fiber waste. Microplastics are now swimming in the air we breathe.
UK scientists at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh concluded that we could be swallowing more than 100 tiny plastic particles with every main meal.
The plastic, which can come from soft furnishings and synthetic fabrics, gets into household dust which falls on plates and is consumed.
UK scientists made the discovery after putting Petri dishes containing sticky dust traps on the table next to dinner plates in three homes at meal times.
Up to 14 pieces of plastic were found in the Petri dishes at the end of a 20-minute meal – the equivalent of 114 plastic fibres falling on the average dinner plate given their much larger size.
Again, while most people are aware of plastics getting into marine life through pollution, there’s a new twist on the problem.
Experts warn that ingesting plastic particles can damage lungs, poison kidneys and interfere with hormones. However, it was originally thought that people were at risk from microplastics exposure via eating polluted fish. Daily Mail continues [emphasis added]:
An investigation by this newspaper, which has run a longstanding Turn The Tide on Plastic campaign, revealed earlier this month that fillets of fresh fish from open counters at major supermarkets contain up to 139 pieces of plastic for every 240g.
The particles were too large to have passed from the gut into the flesh of the fish so the University of Portsmouth scientists who oversaw our investigation believe the plastics came from airborne contamination.
By comparing seafood plastics amounts to indoor daily meal amounts, the scientists found the following:
…fewer than two microplastics in each mussel, which could be linked to the marine environment, and conclude that the average person can expect to consume 100 plastic particles a year through eating the shellfish.
But they will ingest anything from 13,731 to 68,415 fibres in a year during meals because of household dust.
Senior author Dr Ted Henry said:
These results may be surprising to some people who may expect the plastic fibres in seafood to be higher than those in household dust.
We do not know where these fibres come from, but it is likely to be inside the home and the wider environment.
Based on these findings, they conclude that the problem is from household dust. Yes, we are breathing in through the dust. It comes from furniture, tires, carpeting, clothing, bedding, etc.
Here are a few things to help clean the air from microplastics, in order of importance:
- Open windows at every opportunity – it sucks everything out, including superbug pathogens.
- Get a 360 Swiffer duster kit – they’re great! Use as often as you like. A microfiber cloth can be good, too.
- Vacuum/sweep/mop/wipe regularly.
- Air ionizer or air purifier
- Beeswax candles (make sure they are lead-free wicks)
- Diffuser and/or humidifier (the moisture could weigh down particles for easier vacuuming). Could also steam the air.
- Make a household spray with water and a tablespoon of baking soda. It will freshen and disinfect the air and possibly catch and weigh particles down. Arm&Hammer also makes one, but it has fragrance. Save your money and lungs.
- Remove shoes when entering the home. They track in all kinds of debris and chemical residues.
Last but not least – prevent buying synthetic materials in the first place. They are hazardous in other ways, such as toxic fumes and causing allergies in sensitive people. Buy organic cotton clothing if you can because it will help you and keep the waste out of the environment. (Easier said than done, I know!) Try and make your home a comforting, serene environment without worrying about what you are breathing.
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DISCLAIMER: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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