by Samantha Wolfe
What are microplastics?
Plastics do not biodegrade, but rather break down into smaller and smaller pieces until they are considered “microplastics.” These microplastics are between 3.33 and 5 mm, approximately the size of grains of sand at the beach. This plastic debris is in the environment because of the disposal of consumer products and industrial waste.
Where can I find them?
Theoretically, microplastics can be found everywhere. Scientists have found this type of debris in deep oceans both in the marine environment as well as the surface waters and beaches, in arctic snow and ice, in drifting air, and falling rain. On a more familiar scale, these microplastics can be found in our table salt, shellfish, drinking water, and beer.
How will microplastics affect me, my family, and the rest of the living world?
These miniscule pieces of plastic waste contain toxins capable of accumulating in the human body at any age. These contaminants can act as endocrine disruptors and are potentially carcinogenic. There could be a real concern for contribution to developing cancers, reproductive harm, metabolic disfunctions, and even neurotoxicity in extreme cases.
What can I do to avoid microplastics and prevent further spreading?
In order to minimize the risk of microplastic exposure from yourself and the environment, here are five simple things you can change within your daily lifestyle:
2 thoughts on “Breaking Down Microplastics: How These Tiny Nuisances Can Affect Your Health”
I do not understand how air drying laundry can reduce microplastics in the environment. Could you explain?
Hi Paul – this is specific to clothing made of synthetic fibers. Dryers can take a toll on your clothing and break up those fibers more quickly than air drying. Here’s an article with some more helpful info! https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/blog/reduce-laundry-microfiber-pollution/