Microplastics Continue Their Silent Assault on Humans and Wildlife
Posted on: April 16th, 2021
It’s been estimated that each day in the United States, we throw away more than 60 million plastic water bottles, and sadly most of them find their way to landfills or in the ocean. What you probably don’t know is you could actually be inhaling tiny microplastics from those bottles.
Microplastics result from the breakdown of larger plastics and measure less than 5mm in size. As plastics do not decompose quickly or easily (the EPA estimates it takes between 100-400 years to break down completely in landfills), they’re broken down into smaller and smaller pieces which are known as secondary microplastics.
These small fragments eventually find their way in all the wrong places as pollutants in the water that both animals and humans drink, as well as in the air we all breathe.
These microplastics become airborne through road dust on heavily traveled roadways, from sea spray, and even through agricultural soil dust. Fragments can linger in the atmosphere for anywhere between one hour and 6.5 days, which gives them enough time to spread across borders, where they often pollute areas that produce zero microplastic emissions on their own.
From The Weather Channel, “Closer to home, these plastic fragments have become so pervasive that they are embedded in our fields, water supply, and even in the air that we breathe. From the human bloodstream to the guts of small insects in Antarctica, they are leaving a trail in every corner available.”
While further research needs to be done to determine how toxic microplastics are when compared to other aerosols, it’s certainly a situation many of us probably never pondered as we go through one disposable water bottle after another.
The use of more reusable and more sustainable products could go a long way towards reducing the proliferation of microplastics into the air and our water systems, not to mention into our bodies.
There are viable solutions on the market. But until we stop lying to ourselves about where all the plastics we throw away actually go, microplastics will silently continue polluting humans and wildlife populations daily.
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