HealthStriking evidence links microplastics to severe health risks

Striking evidence links microplastics to severe health risks

Microplastics are in the water, air, and soil all over the Earth.
Microplastics are in the water, air, and soil all over the Earth.
Images source: © @canva

16 June 2024 15:32

Further scientific research indicates possible links between microplastics and nanoplastics and severe health consequences. How can we minimize our exposure to these pollutants?

Microplastics and nanoplastics are ubiquitous. These tiny plastic particles have been found in everything from drinking water to chicken nuggets, apples, and broccoli. At the same time, more and more studies are indicating links between these pollutants and heart diseases, lung diseases, and other serious health issues.

Microplastics can be very dangerous to health

Scientists are still examining the exact connections between tiny pieces of plastic and the human body. It is important to remember that these links indicate concerns about the impact of plastic microbeads on health, but they are not yet specific, unequivocally proven causal connections. We still have to wait for those. What can be done to minimize the risk of severe consequences? The magazine "Wirecutter" asked experts about this.

Doctors' first advice is the same for all other conditions. The best prevention is general care for the body: getting enough sleep, regular physical activity, a balanced diet, reducing stress levels, and undergoing preventive check-ups. A well-functioning body can better defend itself against all unfavourable external factors.

The less plastic comes into contact with food and water, the better

Regarding microplastics, experts recommend limiting the contact of what we drink and eat with plastic. The first target should be water and other drinks in plastic bottles. We have already written about this: in many places in the UK, we bring home cases of water of worse quality than that from the tap. Additionally, we quench our thirst with micro- and nanoplastics.

Experts warn against heating food in plastic in microwaves, even if the packaging is theoretically suitable. At high temperatures, microplastics are released into the food faster and easier. For this reason, plastic dishes or containers should not be washed in a dishwasher, where they are also exposed to high temperatures.

The next plastic to eliminate from the kitchen is cutting boards made of this material. Plastic cut by knives is eaten with the food cut on them. Wooden or bamboo cutting boards are safer. It is also worth buying fruits and vegetables by weight instead of those packed in plastic.

Microplastics and nanoplastics are impossible to avoid, no matter how diligent we are. They are in the air we breathe, drinking water, and food. Scientists are still not sure what levels of microplastics and nanoplastics we are ingesting from these sources. We can only reduce the amount of microplastics in the environment by changing government policies on plastic production. Such regulations are already gradually being implemented by the European Union.

Given the growing evidence of its harmfulness, more public health actions may emerge regarding microplastic pollution. Until then, taking care of general health is the first line of defence, followed by reasonable steps to reduce exposure to micro- and nanoplastics.

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