Microplastics are everywhere, from Mount Everest to the Arctic, from dinner plates to baby diapers. But is this ubiquitous pollution actually a danger for human health? A new study from the University of Tel Aviv presents solid evidence that it is. The researchers found that ocean microplastics act as a “magnet” for toxic organic substances, gathering them in one place and increasing their toxicity by a factor of 10. Toxins that adhere to plastics will work their way up the marine food web to humans. A recent study found that three-fourths of commercially fished species had ingested plastic. However, the exact health risks of human exposure have remained unclear.
Marine microplastics interact with triclosan, an antibiotic and antifungal agent that was banned in the U.S. for toiletries in 2016 over health concerns. The plastics absorbed more triclosan after they had been oxidized, a proxy for environmental weathering. Triclosan-contaminated plastics have a greater impact on human cells than either triclosan or microplastics separately.
Another study from December found that microplastics could kill human cells at environmentally relevant concentrations. Other research has shown microplastics to be capable of changing cell shape, declustering lung cells and crossing the blood-brain barrier in mice.
After the environmental pollutants adsorb to the microplastic, the pre-loaded particle may reach the digestive tract through the ingestion of contaminated food and water where it releases the toxins in proximity to the cells of the digestive tract, thus increasing the toxicity of these substances.
This is another painful reminder of the dire consequences of polluting the marine and terrestrial environment with hazardous industrial waste, which has unfortunately been saturated with plastic in recent decades. (source: ecowatch.com)
Considering that 90% of the plastics ever produced worldwide has never been recycled, the best way to deal with plastics is not to use it! What are you waiting for? Avoid plastics, specially single use plastics, use eco-friendly alternatives.
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