Thg 09 26, 23
0 min read
Are Microplastics Harmful? How To Avoid Them In Your Home
By Anh Ha
The environment is facing a new challenge as the world has come to recognize the danger of tiny plastic particles called microplastics. But what are microplastics, and are microplastics harmful?
Let’s explore how these pollutants enter our homes and how we can take steps to avoid them. It's important for us to be informed about this increasingly global problem so that we can protect our environment and our health from its potentially devastating effects.
What Are Microplastics?
Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that can be found all over the world. They come from a variety of sources, including industrial waste and consumer products such as cosmetics and clothing. Microplastics are typically smaller than 5 millimeters in size, making them difficult to detect with the naked eye.
The presence of microplastics in our environment has become a major concern due to their potential to cause harm to wildlife and humans alike. Studies have shown that microplastics can absorb toxic chemicals and get into waterways or even our food supply when ingested by animals or humans. In addition, these tiny particles can also block sunlight from reaching aquatic organisms, thus disrupting the food chain.
Given the potential health risks posed by microplastics, we need to take action now to reduce their presence in our environment.
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Where Can Microplastics Be Found?
Microplastics can be found all over the world. As cities and industries have grown, plastics have become increasingly common in the environment. These tiny particles are now entering our waterways, soil, air, and even our food chain.
It is estimated that more than 8 million tons of plastic waste enter Earth’s oceans every year, and much of this ends up being broken down into microplastics. Microplastics can also come from clothing fibers and other synthetic materials that release these tiny particles when they are washed or handled. Microplastic fragments can be found in our air, water, and soil, as well as in fish, mussels, and other sea creatures.
Additionally, according to Greenpeace, fruit and vegetables like apples and pears bring about the greatest inclusion of microplastics, with an average of 195,500 and 189,500 particulates per gram, separately. Likewise, coleslaw and carrots are usually the most contaminated vegetables, averaging at least 100,000 particles per gram.
Another source of microplastics we discovered is the water we drink daily. A study by the State University of New York in Fredonia found that 93 percent of bottled water has microplastics, with an average of 325 microparticles per liter and 22 times more than regular tap water.
Why Are Microplastics Harmful?
These tiny particles accumulate in the environment, seriously threatening wildlife and humans. But why are microplastics so harmful?
To start, these particles are harmful because they contain highly toxic and harmful chemicals. Many of the compounds used in plastic production have been linked to severe health problems and environmental damage.
As these microplastics enter our food chain, these same compounds can be ingested by marine animals, which makes their way up into the human food chain too. This increases the risk of people consuming contaminated seafood or other foods containing microplastic particles.
Second, some studies pointed out that microplastics affect sea life and the food chain in several ways. Animals may ingest or absorb them directly through their gills as they filter feed on plankton. This can lead to various health problems, including stunted growth and reduced reproductive capacity. Additionally, microplastics have been linked to decreased oxygen levels in the water, making it difficult for aquatic species to survive.
A study commissioned by Seas at Risk and conducted by the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology found that fish that ingest microplastics face energy deficits, decreased fertility, behavioral problems, and even death in some instances.
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Do Microplastics Harm Humans?
The answer may depend on where you get your information. Although there is still much to learn, some current research suggests that microplastics have penetrated deep into our food chain. They have been found in fish and marine animals, which means they could also be transferred from animals to humans when these foods are consumed.
In addition, other studies show that microplastics can contain dangerous toxins such as cadmium or lead. These substances can enter the body through ingestion or inhalation and potentially cause serious health problems.
Another study recently discovered the presence of microplastics in human placentas. These microplastics carry with them several substances that may change the typical function of the hormones in the body and may lead to long-term problems, including oxidative stress, hormonal imbalance, or chronic cell damage and inflammation.
How Can You Avoid Microplastics?
Many people are concerned about these microplastics' environmental and health impacts. The good news is that there are ways to avoid microplastics and help protect the environment.
- Opt for reusable or compostable items: You should always opt for reusable or compostable items instead of single-use plastics. For example, bring your own bag when grocery shopping or use refillable water bottles instead of buying disposable plastic ones. Try reusable cloth shopping bags, such as EQUO reusable tote bags, for your next shopping trip!
- Buy products with less packaging: You should also buy products with less packaging - this will reduce the amount of plastic waste produced from packaging materials.
- Choose products with eco-friendly packaging: If you cannot find products with less packaging, at least opt for products with eco-friendly packaging materials.
- Use eco-friendly straws: Instead of using plastic drinking straws, opt for more eco-friendly straws, such as plant-based compostable straws. These straws are made from 100% natural materials, non-toxic and plastic-free. They decompose without releasing any microplastics that will harm nature.
- Avoid buying products containing microbeads: Many products contain small pieces of plastic, such as face scrubs and toothpaste containing microbeads. When shopping is time, look for items labeled “microbead-free” or “no plastic microbeads” instead.
- Recycle: Try to reduce your use of single-use plastics whenever possible and always recycle any plastic items you choose to use. Recycling plastic items can help to prevent them from ending up in landfills or oceans, where they can break down into smaller particles known as microplastics.
- Repurpose plastic products: Proper care and handling can repurpose these plastics into useful items such as furniture, tools, toys, and even clothing!
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Microplastics have the potential to cause harm to our environment and health. By understanding where they come from and how to avoid them, we can take steps to reduce their presence in our homes.
Remember that single-use plastics are major sources of microplastics, so consider alternatives such as reusable products or biodegradable materials. Also, check out EQUO products for sustainable ways to reduce your plastic footprint! Taking action now will ensure a better future for generations to come.
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