• October 1, 2022

Microplastics and how to reduce their intake in food and drinks

Scientists have discovered that plastics are everywhere in the ocean, in our rivers, and in the air. The smallest pieces fly with the wind and each year it accumulates. As time goes by, there is more because plastic is not natural, it does not rot.

The size of this plastic pollution ranges from microscopically tiny flakes to entire plastic bags, to huge trawling nets. Everything endangers all wildlife. It is particularly harmful to marine life, because ingesting these tiny debris is detrimental to their health.

But it doesn’t end there. The human health impact of the smaller sizes of these plastics in our bodies is of greatest concern. It can cause cancer and has been shown to disrupt important cell membranes. At best, in all creatures, it tends to stick around and get in the way, and that can’t be a good thing.

What are microplastics?

Microplastics are the tiny plastic particles (less than 5mm in size) that are released when plastic is physically damaged or oxidized.

These particles are so small that many of them cannot be seen without a microscope. But they move in our rivers and by long-distance ocean currents in global circulation patterns, like confetti.

It is only recently that scientists have begun looking for “hot spots” where these particles accumulate. The purpose of such studies is to collect data on the amount and potential dangers of these small pieces of trash. However, many problems are already known.

Where are the microplastics?

Microplastics are everywhere. They get into our bodies in our food. For example, they can enter through the nostrils of farm animals through dust from tires blowing onto roads.

And even our water supplies are affected when they reach the rivers used to supply tap water.

Therefore, many scientists are trying to limit the use of plastics.

Microplastics in Food

Microplastics are found in food. A recent study in Australia found that people ingested up to twenty grams of microplastics each week. Additionally, consumers in other countries may be consuming up to four pounds of microplastics each month. Some sources of plastic are likely to contain toxic chemicals harmful to humans, while others are not.

The reason for concern

“How can pieces of plastic hurt someone?” you might ask. After all, is plastic surely made from long-chain polymers of carbon and hydrogen? Those two elements are some of the most common on earth.

However, the concern does not come from the plastic resin when it is pure. Some forms of plastic are used in their pure form without adding anything. Other plastic polymers would be too brittle without the addition of plasticizers. Manufacturers also add bulking substances to reduce the cost of plastic materials.

What chemical additives are in the plastic?

Plastic manufacturers rarely disclose what added plasticizers their products contain. They say that information is a trade secret. There is no information available on the tests they carry out to verify the safety of their additives for human health and the environment.

The threat no one saw coming

Until now, this was considered perfectly acceptable. Who would try to eat plastic items anyway, let alone plastic things that aren’t meant to be near food?

But they never thought ahead to foresee the sheer volume of plastic and the amount of plastic trash that would find its way into the environment. People also didn’t realize how being so close to the density of water would mean it would be drifting for so long. Or how it would break up and millions of bits would be washed away concentrating it again on the beaches.

Actions you can take to reduce microplastics in your diet

Do not put plastic containers in the dishwasher

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding heating plastic in the dishwasher, as some heat-treated plastics can leach chemicals. For this reason, it is important to avoid the use of plastics in the dishwasher. In the end, it is important to limit the consumption of all types of plastic.

Avoid buying products that contain microspheres

If you buy products that contain microbeads (in places where they have not yet been banned), you may not notice the negative effect. Some say they make your bathroom feel very grainy. You may inadvertently be ingesting something every time you use the product.

The World Health Organization report on this issue called for more research. And in the meantime, he urged governments to ban the production and use of microplastics by 2025.

Therefore, from now on, avoid buying cosmetics and other products that contain microbead microplastics, such as some toothpastes and some perfumery products.

At a minimum, always wash your hands or rinse your mouth after using cosmetics or toothpaste that contain microplastics.

Eat seafood in moderation

We eat seafood contaminated with microplastics all the time. Just vary your diet and don’t eat fish all the time.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have conducted a study on the effects of microplastics on fish, birds and other animals. And they are looking at other ways to reduce microplastics in the ocean.

Avoid eating processed foods

Another way to limit microplastics in your body is to stop eating processed foods that contain microplastics. Unlike traditional meat, which can contain larger plastic particles, processed foods can have more than 10 percent microplastics per serving. That’s a lot of plastic!

And this is not the only way that microplastics enter our bodies.

Support action to reduce the use of single-use plastics

Despite some advances in research, there is still no clear answer as to whether microplastics are harmful to human health. Meanwhile, it is quite logical to assume that they are.

Many people are already voting against single-use plastic every time they buy a product by choosing the one that comes in a returnable non-plastic bottle. If you are concerned about microplastics, just join the movement and do the same.

Avoid bottled water

One of the biggest contributors of microplastics is drinking water. But according to a recent study, bottled water contains twice as many plastic particles as tap water. So avoid the water that comes in plastic bottles.

Fortunately, there is now a way to reduce the amount of plastic in your tap water by using the microplastic filter available in some filtration products.

Microplastics in the other things we eat

But what about the rest of our diet? There’s no definitive answer, but research indicates that microplastics can be found in everything from meat to algae. In addition to our drinking water, it is found in beer and sea salt.

Microplastics are so small and invisible to the naked eye that it is easy to continue ingesting them without realizing it if they are in our environment (our homes and offices). Ultimately, there is only one way to avoid them and that is for everyone to drastically reduce their one-time use of plastic packaging and other plastic items.


Microplastics are plastic items that are so small that they creep invisibly down the drain and into the ocean just about everywhere all the time.

There are a variety of ways to decrease the amount of microplastics in your diet by making dietary choices in favor of foods with low concentrations of microplastics.

To further limit microplastics entering your body, the first and most obvious method is to limit the use of microbead-based personal care products. If the ones you commonly use do not include microbeads, there are other steps you can take to reduce this hazard.

If you are still worried about your own consumption of microplastics, look into cleaning up the environment within your living space. There are some steps we can take to reduce the amount of microplastics in our home and in the global environment by putting pressure on local politicians to act.

But for the rest of our time, we can still participate in local cleanups, reduce the amount of plastic in our trash, and always recycle our waste.

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