24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
(361)575-0611
(800)421-8825

Medical Disorders
Resources
Basic InformationLookupsLatest News
Hot Water Soak May Help Ease Poor Leg CirculationHealth Tip: Understanding RosaceaHealth Tip: Causes of Swollen Lymph NodesAHA News: Study Provides Rare Look at Stroke Risk, Survival Among American IndiansCDC Opens Emergency Operations Center for Congo Ebola OutbreakScared Safe: Pics of Sun's Damage to Face Boost Sunscreen UseNo Needle Prick: Laser-Based Test Hunts Stray Melanoma Cells in BloodBats Are Biggest Rabies Danger, CDC SaysEmgality Receives First FDA Approval for Treating Cluster HeadacheZerbaxa Approved for Hospital-Acquired Bacterial PneumoniaBlood From Previously Pregnant Women Is Safe for Donation: StudyStudy Refutes Notion That People on Warfarin Shouldn't Eat Leafy GreensCancer Survivors Predicted to Top 22 Million by 2030Your Guide to a Healthier Home for Better Asthma ControlHigh Blood Pressure at Doctor's Office May Be More Dangerous Than SuspectedAHA News: 3 Simple Steps Could Save 94 Million Lives WorldwideHealth Tip: Dealing With Motion SicknessHealth Tip: Symptoms of MeningitisRace Affects Life Expectancy in Major U.S. CitiesVitamin D Supplements Don't Prevent Type 2 Diabetes: StudyChickenpox Vaccine Shields Kids From Shingles, TooWhooping Cough Vaccine Effectiveness Fades With Time: StudyOpioids Put Alzheimer's Patients at Risk of Pneumonia: StudyHealth Tip: Early Signs of Lyme DiseaseHealth Tip: Hiccup Home RemediesSheep Study Shows a Stuffy Side Effect of VapingShould Air Quality Checks Be Part of Your Travel Planning?Health Tip: Preventing Swimmer's EarHeartburn Drugs Again Tied to Fatal RisksHealth Tip: Nasal Spray SafetyFDA Approves First Drug to Help Tame Cluster HeadachesMany Dietary Supplements Dangerous for TeensAverage American Ingests 70,000 Bits of Microplastic Each YearFalls Are Increasingly Lethal for Older AmericansChicken No Better Than Beef for Your Cholesterol?Another Use for Beta Blockers? Curbing A-fibCaffeine, Nicotine Withdrawal Can Cause Problems in the ICU: StudyYounger Gout Patients Have Higher Odds for Blood ClotsFDA Approves First Test for Zika in Human BloodCDC Warns Again of Salmonella From Pet HedgehogsWhy Some Kids With Eczema Are at Higher Allergy RiskMany Heart Failure Patients Might Safely Reduce Use of DiureticsU.S. Measles Cases for 2019 Already Exceed All Annual Totals Since 1992: CDCForget Fasting Before That Cholesterol TestU.S. Cancer Cases, Deaths Continue to Fall'Controlled Burns' Better for Kids' Health Than Wildfires: StudyHighly Processed Diets Tied to Heart Disease, Earlier DeathHealth Tip: Signs of Irritable Bowel SyndromeA Less Invasive Fix Works Well for Abdominal AneurysmFace Transplants Improve Lives Years Later
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics

Diabetes

Average American Ingests 70,000 Bits of Microplastic Each Year

HealthDay News
by By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Jun 5th 2019

new article illustration

WEDNESDAY, June 5, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Extremely tiny bits of plastic: They're in your food and drink, and even in the air around you.

Now, new research calculates that the average American consumes more than 70,000 particles of these "microplastics" every year -- and even that's likely an underestimation, the scientists noted.

Your microplastic intake might be even higher if you choose products that have more plastics involved in their processing or packaging -- including bottled water, the research team said.

Just how harmful is all this plastic in your body? That's still unclear, said one expert unconnected to the new study.

"It's certainly concerning," said Dr. Kenneth Spaeth, chief of occupational and environmental medicine at Northwell Health in Great Neck, N.Y. "I think the best we can say is perhaps there's minimal harm here, but I think there is a possibility the harm could be extensive."

Other recent studies have shed light on the ubiquity of microplastics in people's bodies.

For example, one report out of Austria found that the average human stool sample contained at least 20 bits of microplastic. In another study, microplastic was found in 90% of samples of common table salt.

However, it's tough to accurately calculate the amount of plastic people consume, noted the lead author of the new study, Kieran Cox. That's because the 26 studies used in the evidence review involved food sources that only reflect about 15% of people's daily diet, he noted. Cox is a Ph.D. candidate with the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.

The researchers added that a person's microplastics consumption rises based on personal food choices they make. For example, a person who only drinks bottled water could be ingesting an additional 90,000 microplastics annually, compared with just 4,000 microplastics for someone who only drinks tap water.

That shows how "simple choices may drastically alter your exposure to plastics," Cox said.

Microplastic particles are incredibly tiny, less than 130 microns in diameter. For comparison, a human hair has a diameter of about 50 microns.

In the new study, Cox and his colleagues analyzed more than two dozen studies that estimated the average microplastic content of different types of foods.

They then estimated what an average person's microplastic intake would be if they ate the recommended daily amount of these foods.

The studies included in the review focused on such commonly consumed items as seafood, sugar, salt, honey, alcohol and bottled water, Cox said. A whole host of other common foods, including chicken, deli meats, vegetables and dairy products, have not been analyzed for their microplastic content.

"We don't have a huge part of the puzzle," Cox said. "We have a small portion of it. We know these are underestimates."

Based on these studies, the researchers estimated that annual microplastic consumption ranges between 39,000 to 52,000 particles, depending on age and sex.

If microplastic particles inhaled via breathing contaminated air are included in the estimate, the annual load increases to between 74,000 and 121,000, the team said.

The numbers would likely be higher for people who eat foods and drink liquids that are processed using plastics or packaged in plastics, Cox added.

For example, studies show that tap water exposes people to between 3,000 and 6,000 microplastic particles each year, but bottled water exposes them to between 64,000 and 127,000 particles annually if that's their only water source.

That's because bottled water is exposed to plastic in a number of different ways, both during processing and as it sits in its plastic bottle waiting for someone to take a swig, Cox said.

There's no clear handle yet on how these plastic particles could affect human health, Cox and Spaeth said.

"The extent to which it is posing a health risk is uncertain at this point," Spaeth said. "There's very little data in the way of human studies that look at health effects in any way."

There's a chance that harmful chemicals in the plastic might leach out of the particles as they pass through the body, Spaeth said.

Some particles also might lodge in the body following inhalation or ingestion, causing immune system responses and cellular damage, the researchers added.

"Once in the lung, depending on the size of the particle, it could conceivably pass into the circulation and go anywhere in the body," Spaeth said. "This study points out there's an accumulation of these particles at pretty high numbers."

The findings were published June 5 in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

More information

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has more about plastics and health.