Humans swallowing plastic equivalent to one credit card per week

Clay Curtis
June 12, 2019

From the depths of the deepest point in the ocean to the inside of whales, we have smashed it out of the park in regards to making sure there is plastic in every place there shouldn't be plastic.

An examination of staples and consumables also revealed that the highest recorded plastic levels were found in shellfish, beer and salt, the organisation said. "Even if countries clean up their backyard, it doesn't mean they will be safe as those [microplastic] particles could be entering from other sources".

Plastic pollution is so widespread in the environment that you may be ingesting five grams a week, the equivalent of eating a credit card, a study commissioned by the environmental charity WWF International said on Wednesday.

People worldwide swallow around five grams of microplastics per week, or around 250 grams a year, says the University of Newcastle's No Plastic in Nature report.

The study by Australia's University of Newcastle said the largest source of plastic ingestion was from tap and especially bottled water. But there could be large regional variations.

Researchers found that water in the United States and Lebanon had on average 4.8 and 4.5 fibres per 500 millilitres respectively, compared to 1.9 fibres per 500 millilitres in both Europe and Indonesia.

A separate study this month found that Americans eat, drink and breathe between 74,000 and 121,000 microplastic particles each year, and those who exclusively drink bottled water rather than tap water can add up to 90,000 plastic particles to their yearly total. More information can be found on their dedicated Your Plastic Diet website.

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We also ingest a lesser amount of particles from the air we breathe, although this "may vary heavily depending on the environment", according to the findings.

The study focused on microplastic less than 1mm in size, which are the most commonly ingested contaminants.

"We know that plastics are doing irreparable harm to wildlife, but scientists have only just started looking at what it's doing to human health". "Not only are plastics polluting our oceans and waterways and killing marine life - it's in all of us and we can't escape consuming plastics", said Marco Lambertini, WWF International Director General.

"If we don't want it in our bodies, we need to stop the millions of tons of plastic that continue leaking into Nature every year".

Prakash-Mani said a global treaty on plastics and reduction targets from companies and governments was needed to tackle the issue.

In 2016 some 100 million metric tonnes of plastic waste ended up in the natural world.

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