Tiny bits of plastic, called microplastics, are causing pollution everywhere. They come from breaking down bigger plastic things and making really small plastic on purpose. These little pieces are a big problem as they go into water, air, and even our food. Scientists are studying how they affect nature and our health. This article will cover important topics regarding where they come from and how they spread so we can stop their harmful effects on the environment.
How do microplastics enter the human body?
Microplastics are omnipresent; they can be found everywhere. Microplastic ingestion happens primarily through ingesting contaminated food and water, inhaling airborne particles, and using personal care products containing microplastics. These tiny plastic fragments, often less than 5 mm in size, can also leach from packaging materials. Additionally, consuming beverages from plastic containers made of polypropylene, and polyethylene terephthalate, and exposure through the skin via cosmetics contribute to human microplastic intake. Research is ongoing to understand the potential health implications of microplastic exposure detected in various tissues and organs.
How much microplastic do we consume?
Estimates of microplastic consumption vary, but studies suggest that humans may ingest several thousand to tens of thousands of microplastic particles annually. The exact amount depends on factors such as diet, water sources, and lifestyle. Seafood, tap water, and salt are common sources of microplastic exposure in food. Microplastics have been found in various tissues, including the gastrointestinal tract. However, the health impacts of this ingestion are still under investigation. The ongoing research aims to provide a clearer understanding of the potential consequences of human exposure to microplastics.
Can microplastics be absorbed through the skin?
Yes!! Microplastic absorption can come from health and beauty products like scrubs and can even be used in medications that go on your skin. These particles are very small, and some studies suggest they might get into our bodies through the skin. However, our skin has a tough outer layer called the stratum corneum that usually keeps things out. Still, if the skin is damaged or stressed, these particles might enter through hair follicles or sweat glands. Some research with plastic particles suggests they can go a little into the skin. However, more studies are needed using real-world samples.
Can microplastic be absorbed through the bloodstream?
Yes!!! When microplastics shrink to less than 1 micrometre, becoming nanoplastics, they transform into ultrafine particles. At this size, they can breach the body’s initial tissue barrier and enter the bloodstream through capillary vessels, dispersing throughout the entire body.
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