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Microplastics are in all ecosystems

They are already widely detected in marine and freshwater environments.

Microplastics are already an environmental and health problem present in all types of ecosystems, which is why humans are ingesting them every day and it is estimated that this will increase by 50% by 2040.

The magazine Environmental Science & Technology published a study in recent days in which it points out that it is a growing problem, since they are widely detected in marine and freshwater environments.

Research carried out at Cornell University in the United States suggests that they are being ingested and inhaled unconsciously. It also states that products such as table salt, seafood, meat and drinks usually contain them.

In the case of salt, for example, per capita consumption is almost the same in Indonesia and the United States, but the concentration of nanowaste in this area is 100 times higher in Indonesia.

These data led to the conclusion that in that Asian country, people consume 15 grams of microplastic more per month than any other country, while the majority of plastic particles come from aquatic sources such as seafood.

In this research, an analysis of data models was carried out on how much microplastic humans eat and inhale without knowing it as a consequence of the degradation and dispersion of untreated plastic waste in the environment.

The evaluation focused on the dietary intake of fruits, vegetables, proteins, cereals, dairy products, beverages, sugars, salt and spices.

The results show that microplastics in human diet between 1990 and 2018 increased in 109 developing and industrialized countries.

The focus was on the main coasts worldwide that are affected by plastic pollution and that impact the fulfillment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically, clean waters and sanitation, underwater life and the life of terrestrial ecosystems.

In Vietnam, it was also found that the concentration of microplastics in the air in outdoor dust is more than 800% than in Japan.

This study allowed us to conclude that 57% of plastic particles in food come, above all, from aquatic sources, and are consumed from rapidly industrialized marine products because they have high added value in the gross domestic product of countries like Indonesia. and Vietnam.

Specifically, countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos are the ones that ingest the largest amount. Other nations such as Venezuela, Paraguay, Pakistan, Syria and Bolivia have a lower rate.

This study cites that plastics are emerging environmental pollutants that easily spread in air, water and soil systems. They filter into ecosystems, contaminating species in the food web, and then end up in the human body.

Plastic has brought benefits to society in recent decades because it is versatile and low cost; however, it has negative implications during and after use.

Other investigations

Other studies have already been carried out on this topic, such as one published by the scientific journal Toxicological Sciences, which reported that 12 types of microplastics were found in human and dog testicles.

It indicates that this could affect the sperm count, after determining its presence in 23 human testicles from autopsies carried out in 2016 on men between 16 and 88 years old, as well as 47 samples from neutered domestic dogs.

Likewise, there are more studies in which microplastics have been found in human placentas, which could mean an impact on the development of fetuses and mammals.

Other scientific contributions show the presence of these residues in the blood, also in breast milk and in laboratory tests, in which the damage they cause to human cells was observed because they lodge in tissues and cause inflammation. .

In 2017, scientists in Belgium announced that people who frequently consume seafood could ingest up to 11.000 plastic particles per year.

Microplastics are tiny fragments that are generally less than five millimeters in size, practically invisible to the naked eye.

According to the United Nations Environment Program on its website, plastic waste is 85% of the largest, most harmful and persistent accumulation of marine litter.

They are contaminants that spread in air, water and soil systems. Photo: Ministry of Science and Technology

Data

  • They inhale. Countries like Mongolia, China and the United Kingdom are where microplastics are breathed the most. Citizens of these countries inhale more than 2,8 million particles per month.
  • Mitigation. The authors of the study highlight the need to make pollution mitigation efforts through water quality control and more effective recycling of waste.

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