Microplastic. Big problem?
Vanessa Koch — — 3 minutes
The tiny, often only millimetre-sized plastic particles have been detected in rivers and seas. It can be found in our homes: in shampoos, shower gels, in our clothes and in toys for children. These tiny plastic particles can even be found in the air we breathe and in snow. They are everywhere! Plastic determines our lives. No wonder that microplastics are created in all areas of our everyday life. From our homes, when we wash our clothes or take a shower, it ends up in the sewage and the environment. We drink from plastic bottles and coffee-to-go cups and take home kilograms of plastic from the supermarket every week. It is created by the abrasion of car tires and is distributed by wind and weather. Or in other words:
Our body absorbs 1 credit card plastic per week.
Is microplastics dangerous?
Well, plastic is poison for the environment. Researchers agree on this. Plastic damages the environment, ecosystems and the animal kingdom. Marine animals and seabirds confuse plastic with food and die from it. The great unknown: Microplastics. Most of it, researchers believe, has disappeared into the deep sea. But what drifts in the ocean will eventually end up with us if we eat fish and sea animals. This is because plastic can now be found in every marine animal, as was sadly confirmed again recently by a Greenpeace analysis 1 .
In fact, very little is known to date about how microplastics affect health in the human body. For example, by the fact that harmful substances could attach themselves to the microplastic particles. These then end up on our table and in our stomachs when we eat. A further thesis: Because microplastics are so small, it can possibly overcome cell barriers in the body and cause inflammation. There is already sporadic evidence that inhaled microplasty has damaged lung tissue, swallowed plastic particles collected in lymph nodes of the intestine. For the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, however, these are not yet sufficient evidence to really classify microplasty as harmful to health. This is related to the fact that plastic has not yet been perceived as a danger. And because scientific theses must be scientifically proven - by serious long-term studies that do not yet exist. In other countries they are already a little bit further, partly follow the results of scientists not by studies, but by actual findings, so that governments enact stricter laws, which prohibit plastic piece by piece.
There is not one study which clearly proves that microplasty is harmful to health. Politics is therefore called upon to provide research with the necessary means to create certainty. The use of plastic in certain areas must be restricted until it can be proven that plastic is harmless. Because if we take a step back and look at the big picture, then we must finally understand: We are healthy when our planet is healthy. Eight million tons of plastic ends up in the ocean every year. How is that healthy? No matter for whom.