There's no denying the fact that plastics are a consistent visual in our everyday lives: It's utilized as storage, surrenders itself to household dust, and is discovered in cosmetics, hair products, toys, and in other numerous forms. It plays a significant role in our routine, whether we'd like to admit it or not. Many individuals can't comprehend that we're doing much more than just using plastic. We consume it through the air we breathe and the food we eat in tiny plastic particles called microplastics.
As a dominating resource with varied functions, these unavoidable products have massively contributed to many complicated issues that are hard to ignore. Today, we emphasize plastic's demonstration of our overall well-being and its significant ramifications on our surrounding environment.
The Correlation Between Humans and Microplastics
Microplastic research is a fresh concept, and there's not yet enough data to effectively measure how these omnipresent fragments have degraded human health. However, that doesn't stop us from forming the conclusion that there cannot be any implications. Since microplastics are involved in a hefty amount of items we consume, it's only proper to assume that the consequences very much do exist.
Microplastic particles can cumulate polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, an exceedingly toxic industrial material that aids in worsening physical health, especially if consumed in high concentrations. As probable human carcinogens, their notable impacts have led the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce PCB manufacturing reduction. PCBs and related chemicals encourage a weakened immune system and reproductive problems. Even low doses commit to some substantial change that can't be wavered off. Trace amounts of PCBs are found in meat and dairy products, especially in fish caught in contaminated water.
Bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial chemical added to numerous commercial products, also sustains pertinence when discussing plastics. One of the more notable chemicals found in plastic packaging or storage containers, BPA isn't nearly as safe as advertised. Exposure to BPA creates concern due to its interference with humans health. Evidence has revealed that the toxin impedes reproductive health, especially in women. It's biological mechanisms imitate the structure and function of estrogen. Its similarity in the hormone shape enables estrogen receptor' binding to manipulate bodily processes, such as cell repair and fetal development. BPA may also associate with other hormone receptors, such as thyroid receptors, changing their function. Most studies have observed BPA's adverse effects on early developers, altering hormonal behavior and increasing cancer risk.
The Correlation Between the Environment and Microplastics
Microplastics are seen in various other environments, with food being no exception as a vulnerable source of contamination. With microplastics prominently found in seafood, studies have suggested a considerable microplastic presence in many oceanic communities. They also located microplastics in deep-sea organisms, implying that microplastics disturb even the most secluded of creatures.
Yet, it comes as no surprise that microplastics harbor a heavy oceanic existence. Many marine animals commonly mistake microplastics for food. This leads to a gradual build-up of contaminants, or bioaccumulation, in the fish liver. Bioaccumulation transpires once an organism absorbs a substance faster than when it is eliminated by catabolism and excretion. It starts at the food web base with primary producers like phytoplankton, resulting in humans consuming high levels through biomagnification.
Well, what's the difference between bioaccumulation and biomagnification, you may ask?
Bioaccumulation pertains to the collection of a toxic chemical in the tissue of an organism. Biomagnification refers to the escalating concentration of a toxic chemical as you move up the food chain.
Overall, experiments have concluded microplastic's damages on wildlife and aquatic creatures. They block the digestive tract, lessen eating urges, and change feeding behavior, all of which decrease growth and reproductive efforts. If you look up some animals online affected by the plastic pandemic, you'll discover eerie photos of animal's stomachs filled with bottle caps, paper, and wrappers.
Avoiding such exposure is crucial for our health and environment, especially since studies detect these less than ideal results.
Methods on Reducing Microplastic Exposure
Although it's impossible to avoid all forms of plastic entirely, that shouldn't halt the small steps necessary to take to circumvent its actual danger to you and your local environments. With a cautious and sympathetic attitude, you know you're thinking about the bigger picture.
Drink tap water, not bottled water Drinking water plays a massive factor in microplastic ingestion and much more so for bottled water. Unless your tap water is contaminated, it's advised you drink from that source instead. You may also use a filter if that's a more suitable option for you to limit microplastic levels.
Eat fresh and avoid processed foods Fresh foods are the least likely to be contaminated with unwanted chemicals, especially when comparing foods enveloped in plastic. When shopping, use reusable containers or mesh bags if permitted by your local supermarket for produce. Buy and place food found in either silicone, foil, or glass. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that plastic containers with recycling codes 3,6 and 7 may contain hazardous chemicals unless labeled "greenware" or "biobased."
Do not heat food in plastic trays. This is especially important since heated plastics have a history of leaching chemicals into food. It's also recommended to avoid putting plastic in the dishwasher. Instead, heat food by microwaving in different materials such as glass and use the stove.
Keep your area clean It's essential to keep your living space clean to avoid dust accumulation, including microplastics and unfavorable chemicals. Cleaning prevents inhaling such toxins while also reducing exposure. Vacuuming is an effective strategy to control this occasion, especially if it has a HEPA filter.
Keep in touch with your community. Don't only assume your sway is limited to what goes on in your day-to-day life. Although legislation controls plastic production's path, you ultimately have the power to pursue an informative lifestyle by engaging in community-organized groups with similar interests. They often provide outlines for composting and recycling. Seek out zero-waste groups and similar nonprofits with catered interests. It doesn't hurt to become proactive in limiting single-plastic use.
Demonstrating a progressive path towards sustainably means a better life for everyone. Although large-scale efforts prove a more effective route, it still matters that each person contributes to ensuring a quality life for us and upcoming generations of life.