Most of us know we’re drowning our planet in plastic and it has a big negative impact on our environment. Did you also know that you could be eating roughly 2,000 tiny plastic particles and fibers every week, 1,769 of which come from drinking water alone? Keep reading to find out how many microplastics could be in your body right now.
This post is sponsored by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. All opinions are mine.
What Are Microplastics?
Microplastics are plastic particles smaller than 5mm in size. There are two types of microplastics:
- Primary microplastics are released directly into environment. This can be through the use of personal care products that contain microplastics or when abrasions occurs like the erosion of tires from driving or washing clothes made of synthetic fibers.
- Secondary microplastics are responsible for the majority of tiny plastic fragments released into the environment. That’s because they represent the breakdown of plastic bottles and other large plastic items that end up our water.
According to the UN, over 51 trillion microplastic particles are in the seas — more than 500 times the number of stars in our galaxy! In essence, microplastics are everywhere. So, it’s not surprising that they’re also in our bodies. But, how do they get inside of us?
Journey of a Microplastic Particle Into Your Body
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany created Microplastic Me. With a short video they visualize the journey of a microplastic particle into your body.
The journey starts with a microplastic particle inside of toothpaste. After brushing, the particle washes down the drain, bypassing a waste treatment plant. Remember, microplastics are too small to be filtered and end up in our natural water supply. Once in the water, a fish might eat the particle. The very fish you might order to eat at your favorite restaurant.
In fact, shellfish, salt, and water (particularly bottled water), all contain high counts of microplastics. A regular-sized bottle of water contains approximately 100 particles–totaling almost 90,000 particles annually compared to 10 particles in every 2.5 liters of tap water (recommended daily intake for adults).
Your toothbrush, toothpaste, skin care products, and tea **plus the honey or sugar could all contain microplastics. Blankets, fleeces and other clothes made of synthetic textiles also contain hundreds of microplastic fibers.
Get Your Plastic Value
The simplest way to find out how many microplastic particles you potentially consume and produce is to visit Microplastic Me. The site, created by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, asks a few brief questions, then gives you a personal plastic value.
The questions reveal other factors to consider when making calculations. For example, “men tend to ingest more particles as they take deeper breaths and generally have a higher daily calorie consumption than women.” Where you live has the biggest impact on how many particles you produce every day. “In North America, over 4 million particles per person are emitted every day.“
With so many paths for entry, it’s possible we’re consuming anywhere from 39,000 to 52,000 microplastic particles a year, according to a study in the journal of Environmental Science and Technology.
The effects of microplastics on our health is still a mystery. This makes growth in our personal awareness and dealing with our plastic problem even more important.
According to Microplastic Me, my plastic values are:
Based on these values, I’m breathing and eating ~197,000 microplastic particles a year. I’m producing just shy of a billion particles every year!
How about you? Comment below with your plastic values from taking the quiz at Microplastic Me!