Microplastic particles from polar fleece fabrics agitated in a household washing machine. (Credit: Monique Raap)

Humans unknowingly eat 100,000 particles of plastic per year, says new UVic study

Micro-plastics smaller than sesame seeds

Humans unknowingly eat spiders, calories and now, according to a new University of Victoria study, they’re eating micro-plastics.

According to the study, humans are consuming tens of thousands of plastic particles per year, a problem they say requires further research to understand the potential health impacts.

Microplastics are pieces of plastic under five millimetres in diameter — smaller than a sesame seed — that come from the degradation of larger plastic products or the shedding of particles from water bottles, plastic packaging and synthetic clothes.

READ ALSO: Salmon, whales ingest microplastic: study

The particles can easily sneak into our bodies undetected through the food we eat or the air we breathe.

Kieran Cox, a marine biology PhD candidate in UVic Biologist Francis Juanes’ lab, says human reliance on plastic packaging and food processing methods is a growing problem.

“Our research suggests microplastics will continue to be found in the majority — if not all — of items intended for human consumption,” says Cox. “We need to reassess our reliance on synthetic materials and alter how we manage them to change our relationship with plastics.”

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Ucluelet Aquarium surveying spread and threat of microplastic

Reviewing 26 previous studies and analyzing the amount of micro-plastic in fish, shellfish, sugars, salts, alcohol, water and air, which accounted for 15 per cent of Americans’ caloric intake. Through analyzing the amounts of foods people ate, based on their age, sex and dietary recommendations, Cox and his team were able to estimate that a person’s average micro-plastic consumption is between 70,000 and 121,000 particles per year and rising for those who drank bottled water closer to 100,000.

The majority of research to date has focused on seafood, but the new study indicates a significant amount of the plastic humans consume may be in the air we breathe or water we drink. More research is needed on microplastic levels in our foods — particularly major food groups like beef, poultry, dairy and grains — in order to understand health impacts and the broader problem of plastic pollution, says Cox.

The study, co-authored by scientists at UVic, Hakai Institute and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Liber Ero Foundation.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

UVic

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Kieran Cox is among a team of UVic researchers conducting a study that suggests humans are unknowingly consuming tens of thousands of plastic particles per year. (Credit: Kieran Cox)

Just Posted

Delta council passes bylaw to fine people who don’t socially distance, respect closures

Not social distancing or obeying provincial orders in Delta could set you back hundreds of dollars

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

OBITUARY: Sherrold Haddad brought giant Canadian flag to Surrey car dealership, built community

‘An amazing man, business person and community leader,’ friend Bruce Hayne posted to Facebook

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock, Delta and beyond

MARCH 28: Delta council passes bylaw to fine people who don’t socially distance

White Rock council members stand by decision to close pier

Minimal push-back over closure to minimize chance of spreading COVID-19 virus

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

B.C. Ferries passengers staying away, as asked, during COVID-19 pandemic

Ferry corporation says ridership down 70-80 per cent over the last week and a half

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

COVID-19 world update: Enforceable quarantine in NYC?; France orders 1 billion masks

Spain warns EU’s future at stake; New York governor calls Trump’s idea ‘federal declaration of war

Blue ribbons popping up along streets in Abbotsford in praise of B.C. healthcare workers

Healthcare worker’s family starts local trend of morale support

Earth Hour 2020 kicks off online Saturday night

Action moves online due to COVID-19

B.C. COVID-19 cases rise 92 to 884, one more death, 81 in care

Outbreak action underway in 12 long-term care homes

B.C. veterinarians want to smooth the fur of COVID-19-worried pet owners

Vets expect to continue giving your fur buddies the help they need while social distancing

Most Read