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.

 

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

Judge reserves sentencing until Dec. 9 in Giesbrecht trial

Crown asks for 12-15 years of parole ineligibility

Voter turnout in elections rising, data shows

If Canadians keep up their voting patterns seen since 2008, more people… Continue reading

Metlakatla, Lax Kw’alaams, Nisga’a and Haisla commit to fight climate change internationally

First Nations launch Northwest Coast First Nations Collaborative Climate Initiative

Lakes Literacy expands to Granisle

The Lakes Literacy program in September expanded its book mail-out program for… Continue reading

Breaking ground for new water plant

A ground breaking ceremony was held on Oct. 3 to mark the… Continue reading

B.C.’s rural paramedic program expands, with home support

Advanced care ambulance staff added for six communities

BC Ferries sees steady traffic of post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Ferries filling up fast, sailing waits at some terminals

‘Save the kids!’ Dorian survivor tells the harrowing story of his Canadian wife’s death

Family held a funeral and placed Alishia Liolli’s remains in a niche at a cemetery in Windsor, Ont.

Okanagan woman, 91, votes at advance polls despite broken hip, shoulder and wrist

Angela Maynard has voted in almost every election during her lifetime

Heiltsuk Nation open first Big House in 120 years in northern B.C.

Opening means the community now has an appropriate space for spiritual and ceremonial events

Singh says NDP would form coalition with the Liberals to stop Tories

Singh was in a Liberal-held riding Sunday afternoon in Surrey where he was pressed about his post-election intentions

‘My heart goes out to the mother’: B.C. dad reacts to stabbing death of Ontario boy

Carson Crimeni, who was also 14, was bullied relentlessly, his dad says

BC Ferries filling up fast with post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Monday anticipated to be busiest day of the weekend

‘Wham-bam out the door’: Surrey man’s front yard left ruined by scamming landscaper

Resident warns neighbours to be careful of door-to-door salesmen

Most Read