According to a new study from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, the average western citizen is eating as many as 100 pieces of plastic with every meal. The researchers came to this conclusion by conducting tests where they placed Petri dishes containing sticky dust traps on tabletops near to the plates that study participants were eating off of. On these dishes, they found an average of 14 pieces of plastic for every 20 minutes of eating time.
According to their calculus, this means that as many as 100 pieces of plastic should be falling into the food of the people who participated in the study.
By extrapolating their findings even further, the researchers believe that the average person eats more than 64,400 bits of plastic each year.
Even more dismaying than this is, they believe that the plastic dust is coming in the form of airborne particles that are common in homes, rather than in the food containers we buy from the store. The plastic particles are coming from synthetic fabrics throughout the home such as are found in polyester clothing, bed sheets, blankets, and furniture.
Worries about plastics in our food and drink have been a growing concern in recent years. But until recently, few have ever considered the problem of soft plastics in fabric impregnating the air in our homes.
According to the Heriot-Watt University researchers, there is more plastic in the air we breathe in our homes than there is in seafood. That’s saying a lot, considering the fact that the average mussel, taken freshly from the ocean, contains one to two particles of microplastic. That may not sound like much, but for plastic to be getting into the system of a small shelled creature like that requires our oceans to be absolutely bursting with plastic.
According to the models, people are consuming around 100 pieces of plastic each year directly through the food they eat. But the vast majority of the plastic that gets into our digestive tracts is coming from airborne particles which have come from synthetic fabrics.
Plastic pollution is so pervasive that animals living on the bottom of the sea have been found with nylon, polyvinyls, and rayon in their systems. All of these materials are toxic to living systems.
The minuscule size of these particles makes then nearly impossible to detect. Worse, when these materials come into contact with the digestive enzymes of a human or animal, they become even more dangerous.
The body responds to these materials in the same way it responds to any other foreign invader, by attacking it with antibodies, responding with inflammation, and producing large amounts of mucus.
But those who are getting sick from toxic exposure are unlikely to get any help from their physicians. This is because doctors do not recognize exposure to toxic micro-plastics as a hazard. Those who are found to be responding to these particles will likely be diagnosed with a mysterious autoimmune disorder.
Needless to say, it is very important that people find ways to limit their exposure to these plastic particles. Unfortunately, this is no easy task. You can begin by replacing all of the synthetic fabrics in your home. The best place to begin is probably your pillow. Artificial stuffing is a huge source of plastic dust that is inhaled immediately after it is released.
Second, blankets and clothing should be replaced with items that are made from 100% natural fabrics. Finally, furniture and carpets containing plastic fibers should be replaced as well.
When it comes to avoiding the plastic in food, you can begin by searching for food products that are not contained in plastic. But of course, these are more expensive and rare. Bottled water should be avoided. 93% of all bottled water uses plastic containers that shed plastic profusely. Using a high-quality water filter is a good option.
These solutions are expensive, labor intensive, and will cause us to have to abandon many of the conveniences that make our fast-paced modern lives possible.
For many people, learning about these issues feels like the world is coming down around them. And in a way, it is. Our modern conveniences are making us sick and weak. To change this, we are all going to have to take more responsibility for the things we eat and use.
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