A new study identifies which parts of our airways are getting clogged with microplastics as we inhale about 16.2 bits an hour. That’s a credit card’s worth of microplastic going into our respiratory system a week.
We’re also eating and drinking these plastic particles, as microplastics are now everywhere, including in our veins. They’re in our tea, water, and food, as well as increasing in the air. We can’t avoid them and don’t understand the health impact.
“For the first time, in 2022, studies found microplastics deep in human airways, which raises the concern of serious respiratory health hazards,” says University of Technology Sydney engineer Mohammad Islam.
It revealed that the largest microplastics tested (5.56 microns) tend to get stuck in our upper airways, most likely in the nasal cavity or the back of the throat.
While microplastics clearly aren’t immediately toxic, concerns remain about the long-term effects of these tiny pollutants, especially as they accumulate within us.
What’s more, plastic has a knack for attracting potentially harmful hitchhikers, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria, viruses, and toxic molecules like fire retardants and phthalates.
“Millions of tons of these microplastic particles have been found in water, air, and soil,” explains Islam.
“Global microplastic production is surging, and the density of microplastics in the air is increasing significantly.”
These tiny particles are shedding from the degradation of all the plastics we’ve surrounded ourselves with, from big industrial processes to consumer items. One of the most significant sources of these microparticles is the fashion industry, with its escalating production of ever-cheaper synthetic clothing.
Source: Science Alert (19 June 2023)