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June 16, 2022
Plastic is not biodegradable. It breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces over time via solar UV radiation (1), called microplastics. Microplastics are plastic fragments less than 5 millimeters across. They have been found everywhere you can imagine- in fresh Artic and Antarctic snow, in the bellies of marine animals, drinking water, beer, in the depths of the oceans, in the air, and falling with rainwater. A very recent study even found PET plastic (that’s the plastic most used in food packaging) in the blood of its human participants (2). Yikes! It is estimated a human ingests a credit card size of plastic each year (3).
Many of us have seen how dangerous larger plastic items can be to marine life and the devastating photos of marine mammals. What about microplastics and marine life? One study examined 102 sea turtles from 7 species across and found all of them had ingested microplastics (4). Zooplankton are an important step in the food chain and includes microscopic as well as larger animals like jellyfish. Zooplankton is an animal that doesn’t stand in the spotlight but is critical to the health of marine ecosystem. When it is affected, this will work its way up the food chain to humans. In the presence of microplastics, zooplankton eggs are less likely to hatch, and they grow more slowly (5). It has been reported that feeding behavior and therefore growth and development were negatively affected by exposure to microplastics (5).
What about human health and microplastics? We can confidently say all humans have regular exposure to microplastics, but the effect on human health requires more research. Studies on mice found inflammation in the gut, low sperm count, and smaller pups when ingesting microplastics (6, 7, 8).
Researchers question if the current amount of microplastic exposure may not be enough to cause major widespread health problems in humans, but the time to act is now. Plastic waste is expected to increase significantly (9). Reducing single use plastic is the easiest way to start the shift from our plastic dependence.
If you would like help reducing your plastic waste, Green Llama makes plastic free, zero waste surface cleaners. We selected eco-friendly ingredients, referencing the Environmental Working Groups database and the EPA's safer choice ingredients list. Using means Green Llama means a simple alternative and no more worrying about recycling. Use MICROPLASTICFREE for a 20% discount.
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