Microplastics are small pieces of plastic that are less than 5 millimetres in size. They can come from various sources, such as plastic products that break down over time, synthetic fabrics that shed fibres when washed, or cosmetics and personal care products that contain microbeads.
Microplastics have been found in many environments on Earth, such as oceans, freshwater ecosystems, soil, air, and even human and animal bodies. They can pose a threat to wildlife and ecosystems by causing physical damage, chemical contamination, or biological effects. The extent and impact of microplastic pollution are still being studied by scientists.
They are a widespread and growing problem that needs urgent attention and action from all stakeholders. Some possible solutions include reducing plastic production and consumption, improving waste management and recycling systems, banning or phasing out microbeads and other unnecessary sources of microplastics, and supporting research and innovation on alternative materials and detection methods.
Microplastics can enter the human food chain through various sources, such as seafood, plants, food additives, drinks, and plastic food packaging. However, it is not accurate to say that the whole human food chain is contaminated by microplastics. The levels and types of microplastics vary depending on the food source, processing method, and environmental factors.
The health effects of microplastics on humans are still unclear and under investigation. Some possible risks include physical damage to the digestive system, chemical toxicity from additives or pollutants attached to microplastics, and biological effects from bacteria or viruses carried by microplastics. However, there is not enough evidence to draw definitive conclusions about the exposure levels, the absorption rates, the accumulation patterns, or the long-term impacts of microplastics on human health.
Therefore, it is important to monitor and reduce the presence of microplastics in food and water sources and to support more research on their potential health implications.