The world uses and disposes millions of tons of plastic a day. Americans alone throw away about half a pound a day. All these plastics can break down into pieces less than 0.2 inches in diameter.
These microplastics as well as those used in personal care items end up in our waters. An appalling 8.8 million tons of plastic enter the oceans each year and currently there is about 276, tons of plastic floating in the oceans.
Fish, mussels, oysters and other marine (and fresh water) organisms ingest these microplastics. What happens as we ingest all these microplastics with our fishy foods? You won’t believe the effects of eating microplastics and you may just never touch another plastic item again!
Number one is scary for mother of young children while number five should scare everyone.
Phthalates and Reproduction
Plastics are made with phthalates, a chemical that makes plastic flexible. There are a number of phthalates including DBP, BBP, DEHP, DINP, DnOP, and DIDP.
Three are banned from infant toys and three more are temporarily banned. However, they are not banned from other uses.
Two are linked to reproductive damage in male rats. Another is linked to endometriosis in women and causes reproductive development problems in rats. Problems are also seen in kids going through puberty.
Studies show that exposure is widespread.
Phthalates and Cancer
Most of these phthalates are linked to cancer in laboratory tests. They are known to cause breast cancer cells to grow in test tubes and cause tumors in rats. While the direct link to cancer is unknown in humans, there is plenty of evidence that phthalates are dangerous.
Even if people don’t develop cancer from exposure, people may have skin and eye irritations. They also cause nausea, dizziness and vomiting. Could rising cancer rates be placed at the feet of microplastics in our food?
Free Radicals and Dementia
Microplastics can build up in mouse livers, kidneys and intestines. When mice are fed microplastics, they are absorbed through the intestinal walls into the blood stream. From that point, they are deposited into other organs. Microplastic laden mouse livers produce high levels of free radicals.
An imbalance of free radicals is linked to diabetes, atherosclerosis (hardened arteries), high blood pressure, cancer, heart disease, conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and cause chronic inflammation.
Could microplastics fueling the increase in dementia?
Bisphenol A (BPA) and Impotence
Most people have heard about BPA or bisphenol A. It is a chemical commonly used to make water bottles and food containers. BPA is one of the most studied chemicals in plastics.
BPA is linked to reproductive disorders, male impotence, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, weight gain, fetal brain development, breast and prostate cancer, and asthma.
Manufacturers have voluntarily stopped using BPA in infant packaging and utensils (the FDA banned it afterwards). However, it is still found in plastics.
Freshwater and oceans are known to contain antibiotics and other medicines (urinated out by users), and other toxins. Microplastics are known to absorb bacteria, viruses, heavy metals, and other harmful substances.
Fish then eat these microplastics either thinking they are plankton or as they move up the food chain. Since humans are generally at the top of the food chain, all these plastics and their toxic load could conceivably end up in us.
Microplastics are a huge health risk. From reproduction to physical and cognitive development to diabetes, our reliance on plastics is cause huge health issues. And don’t think that you can avoid microplastics by avoiding water-based organisms.
Microplastics are found in the air and breathed into lungs, absorbed by food within containers, taken up through the food chain to practically every animal food source, and absorbed into plants.
Science has concrete data only on BPA, but studies are indicating that many of the chemicals in plastic are dangerous. Do yourself a fair and avoid plastic and plastic lined objects.