The Potential Health Effects of Microplastics on Humans

Plastic ingestion consequences

Microplastics are small plastic particles that are less than five millimeters in size. They are found in various products including cosmetics, cleaning products, and industrial processes. Unfortunately, these microplastics often end up in the environment where they can be ingested by humans and other animals. The potential health effects of microplastic ingestion are a topic of concern and the effort to research it are growing.


What are microplastics?

Besides being under 5 mm in size they can be classified into two categories: Primary and secondary. Primary microplastics are intentionally produced in small sizes, such as microbeads found in exfoliating face scrubs and toothpaste. Secondary microplastics are created when larger plastic items break down into smaller pieces over time due to weathering and degradation.

How do humans come into contact with microplastics?

Microplastics can enter the human body through various pathways. One way is through the consumption of seafood. Fish and shellfish have been found to contain microplastics in their tissues and organs, which can then be transferred to humans when they eat these seafood products. Microplastics have also been found in tap water, bottled water, and other beverages, which means that humans can also ingest them through drinking water. In addition, microplastics can be inhaled through the air and absorbed through the skin when using personal care products that contain microplastics. (If you think microplastic ingestion through the air sounds too extreme, you can watch the video about Cancer Alley which is a mecca alley for the plastic industry and the people in the city have the highest cancer rate in the entire USA)


What are the potential health effects of microplastic ingestion?

The potential health effects of microplastic ingestion are still being researched and are not fully understood. However, some studies have suggested that microplastics can accumulate in the body and may potentially lead to toxicity. For example, a study published in the journal ‘Environmental Science and Technology’ found that microplastics can accumulate in the liver, spleen, and other organs of fish, potentially leading to inflammation and other negative health effects.

Additionally, some research has suggested that microplastics may interfere with the endocrine system, which is responsible for regulating hormones and other important processes in the body. A study published in the journal ‘Environmental Pollution’ found that exposure to microplastics can disrupt the endocrine system in fish and potentially lead to reproductive and developmental problems.

There is also concern that microplastics may carry harmful chemicals and pollutants, which can be transferred to humans when ingested. A study published in the journal ‘Environmental Science and Technology’ found that microplastics can absorb and release toxic chemicals, such as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which have been linked to negative health effects in humans.



While more research is needed to fully understand the potential health effects of microplastic ingestion by humans, it is clear that it is a cause for concern. It is important for individuals to be aware of the potential sources of microplastics in their daily lives and to take steps to reduce their exposure, such as choosing products that do not contain microplastics and supporting policies that aim to reduce plastic pollution.

Plastic ingestion consequences

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