Microplastic particles from polar fleece fabrics agitated in a household washing machine. (Credit: Monique Raap)

Humans unknowingly eat 100,000 particles of plastic per year, says new UVic study

Micro-plastics smaller than sesame seeds

Humans unknowingly eat spiders, calories and now, according to a new University of Victoria study, they’re eating micro-plastics.

According to the study, humans are consuming tens of thousands of plastic particles per year, a problem they say requires further research to understand the potential health impacts.

Microplastics are pieces of plastic under five millimetres in diameter — smaller than a sesame seed — that come from the degradation of larger plastic products or the shedding of particles from water bottles, plastic packaging and synthetic clothes.

READ ALSO: Salmon, whales ingest microplastic: study

The particles can easily sneak into our bodies undetected through the food we eat or the air we breathe.

Kieran Cox, a marine biology PhD candidate in UVic Biologist Francis Juanes’ lab, says human reliance on plastic packaging and food processing methods is a growing problem.

“Our research suggests microplastics will continue to be found in the majority — if not all — of items intended for human consumption,” says Cox. “We need to reassess our reliance on synthetic materials and alter how we manage them to change our relationship with plastics.”

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Ucluelet Aquarium surveying spread and threat of microplastic

Reviewing 26 previous studies and analyzing the amount of micro-plastic in fish, shellfish, sugars, salts, alcohol, water and air, which accounted for 15 per cent of Americans’ caloric intake. Through analyzing the amounts of foods people ate, based on their age, sex and dietary recommendations, Cox and his team were able to estimate that a person’s average micro-plastic consumption is between 70,000 and 121,000 particles per year and rising for those who drank bottled water closer to 100,000.

The majority of research to date has focused on seafood, but the new study indicates a significant amount of the plastic humans consume may be in the air we breathe or water we drink. More research is needed on microplastic levels in our foods — particularly major food groups like beef, poultry, dairy and grains — in order to understand health impacts and the broader problem of plastic pollution, says Cox.

The study, co-authored by scientists at UVic, Hakai Institute and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Liber Ero Foundation.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

UVic

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Kieran Cox is among a team of UVic researchers conducting a study that suggests humans are unknowingly consuming tens of thousands of plastic particles per year. (Credit: Kieran Cox)

Just Posted

There has been COVID-19 exposures at two elementary schools in District 42. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 24 additional COVID-19 cases

This includes three school exposures in Kelowna

The portion of highway is down to single-lane alternating traffic. Photo: Connor Trembley
Commercial trailer catches fire near Castlegar

Traffic was delayed along Hwy 3

Numbers indicate positive COVID-19 tests, January through September. Map: BC Centre for Disease Control
Twenty-five cases of COVID-19 reported in Nelson, Castlegar and Trail in 2020

New data from the BC Centre for Disease Control shows numbers of cases per community

Castlegar Search and Rescue members practicing their skills at the Kinnaird Bluffs. Photo: submitted
Why search and rescue is a free, non-judgmental service in B.C.

Castlegar Search and Rescue talks about why they do what they do

Katrine Conroy has won for the fifth time in the Kootenay West riding. Photo: Submitted
Katrine Conroy ready to tackle challenges after election

Conroy won the Kootenay West riding for the fifth time

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
U.S. election results one factor that could impact immigration to Canada next year

The survey polled 1,523 Canadians between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25

Most Read