Unless you’re eating raw foods, it can be difficult to know exactly what is going into your body. And now, new research is suggesting that things are even more complicated as Canadians consume an unbelievable amount of plastic in their food, according to a new study.
According to Canadian research that was conducted by BC, University of Victoria biologist Keiran Cox, it is possible that people in North America are consuming anywhere from 39,000 to 52,000 microplastic particles a year. These estimates increase to 74,000 and 121,000 when inhalation is also taken into consideration.
According to the National Ocean Service, these microplastics are small pieces of plastic that are less than five millimetres long and are typically formed when bigger plastic debris breaks down into smaller bits. They can be found in the air, in the ocean, and also in food.
Cox stated that if a person predominately takes in water through plastic water bottles rather than the tap, they would be consuming an additional 90,000 microplastic annually. A person who only drinks from the tap would only consume an additional 4,000 annually.
In order to conduct the study, Cox evaluated the number of microplastic particles in commonly consumed foods in relation to their suggested daily intake. Cox also explored the potential of microplastic inhalation and how the source of drinking water may affect microplastic consumption.
Through the research, the scientists found no microplastics in meat and vegetables. However, the food and drinks with the most amount of plastic they found were fish, shellfish, sugar additives, salts, beer, and bottled water.
Cox has stated that the annual dose of microplastics depends on the person. On the spectrum, female children are at the low end with males at the high end.
Cox and her team only took into consideration about 15% of North Americans daily caloric intake, which means that the values presented are likely underestimates of the reality.
According to CTV, the health impacts of microplastics still remain a mystery. Some evidence suggests that plastics like BPA can carry toxins. Others are so small that they can pass through cell membranes.
The World Health Organization has stated that there isn’t enough evidence out there to conclude the theory that microplastic particles are hurting us. However, there has been substantial research that claims microplastics hurt sea life and slow down growth and reproduction rates in fish.
Cox’s research has since been published online.