What does a plastic bottle have to do with a salmon filet?
Quite a lot, as it turns out. A quiz the way you like it.
Soups, pasta, sandwiches – we ingest more than 100 of the smallest plastic particles when we eat. That's up to 68,415 plastic fibers per person per year, according to a recent study by scientists at the Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. Some particles also wind up on our plates through the air. How the plastic particles end up in the air is speculation at best, because the plastic cycle has not yet been studied.
The results surprised even the researchers. Laboratory testing conducted by the Chemical and Veterinary Investigation Office of the Münsterland-Emscher-Lippe region proved that all of the 38 tested water brands were contaminated with microplastic. The most particles were found in reusable PET bottles, with 120 particles per liter. But microplastic has also been found in glass bottles and cardboard packaging. Researchers tested the water with state-of-the-art Raman spectroscopy.
In the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the clothes we wear and even the cosmetics we use – microplastic lurks everywhere, and we ingest it into our organism in a multitude of ways. More than 90 percent of people living in industrialized nations have blood that is chronically contaminated with bisphenol A (BPA), says Dieter Swandulla, Institute Director of the Physiology 2 Department at the University of Bonn. The brain is the only organ where microplastic has not been found – at least not yet.
Researchers fear that this scary notion will be a reality by 2050. Even today there are gigantic mounds of plastic garbage floating around in the oceans, the largest of which has been dubbed the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" by researchers. It's floating around between America and Asia in the Pacific and is as large as Central Europe. Deutsche Telekom is dedicated to finding a solution to this enormous problem. Read more in the article on the biggest garbage dump in the world.
Plastic is made from petroleum, coal, or natural gas and supplemented with softeners, stabilizers, dyes and flame retardants. When they disintegrate, microplastic particles are like a magnet for countless toxins, which they encounter on their long journey. Researchers warn that the chemicals in the plastics as well as the bound toxins cause major damage to our health, from obesity and allergies to heart disease, infertility and cancer. Researchers at the universities of Beijing, Shenzhen, Gifu and Suzuka discovered in animal experiments that substitute materials such as fluorene-9-bisphenol (BHPF) can also be problematic. The hormonal balance of mice changed to such a degree when they were administered the substance that they had fewer offspring. The effect of many other chemical substances in our body has not yet been researched. Until then, we should always avoid using plastic and its cousins.