Humans are ingesting 5 grams of plastic per week

June 21, 2019 | Environment
Credit cards: we are eating one of these ever week | Illustration: WWF

Humans could be ingesting five grams of plastic every week, according to a study by Australia's University of Newcastle.

The analysis made for the World Wide Fund (WWF) reveals that an average person may be potentially consuming as much as 1,769 particles of plastic every week, just from both tap and bottled water.

Additionally, we are also getting plastic into our bodies via shellfish (182 particles), salt (11 particles) and beer (10 particles).

But how does it happen?

Microplastics are plastic particles under 5 millimeters in size. They are contaminating the water we drink, the food we eat, and the air we breathe.

They are released into the environment via shower gel microbeads, tire abrasion, but also from the degradation of larger plastic samples like plastic bottles, detergent containers, shampoo bottles, etc.

Plastic World

The production of plastic items has never ceased to increase since it was introduced in the world's largest societies.

But by the turn of the millennium, things got worse.

The University of Newcastle notes that half of the virgin plastic produced between 1950 and 2016 has occurred since 2000.

Plastic: 75 percent of all plastic ever produced is waste | Photo: Creative Commons

The percentage of tap water samples containing plastic fibers varies from country to country.

In the United States, 94.4 percent of the samples contained traces of plastic. In Europe, the percentage reached 72.2 percent, and in Lebanon, it was found in 98 percent of the samples.

In other words, we are eating the equivalent to a credit card every week. The figures are shocking, but there's more.

Impacts on Human Health

Did you know that 75 percent of all plastic ever produced is waste, about 87 percent of mismanaged waste is leaked into nature and becomes plastic pollution, and that the ocean will contain one metric ton of plastic for every three metric tons of fish by 2025?

Some types of plastic carry chemicals and additives with potentially harmful effects on human health. However, the precise consequences have not yet been identified.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is currently undertaking a review of the long-term health impact of microplastics to better understand the impact of microplastics in the humans' well-being.

"We all need to establish national targets for plastic reduction, recycling
and management in line with global treaty commitments," the WWF underlines.

"Also, we must implement policy instruments that promote the use of recycled plastic over new plastic, and of viable alternatives to plastic with smaller environmental footprints."

The Surfing Christmas Gift Guide for 2019 | Explore our Christmas gift ideas for surfers