Microplastics and effects on marine fauna and human health

A large amount of microplastics is of home origin, such as those coming from the washing of synthetic garments, which are poured into water

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Microplastics and effects on marine fauna and human health

A large amount of microplastics is of home origin, such as those coming from the washing of synthetic garments, which are poured into water. This problem can be reduced through special filters, low temperature washing and the use of liquid detergents.

Microplastic pollution caused by very small waste that infiltrates the environment and food is considered a threat to the ecosystem and human health. Microplastics come from different sources. Agriculture is also a producer of microplastics.

The sheets that are used to mulch disintegrate in the soil when at the end of the crop cycle they are not collected and disposed of properly. Left on the ground, plastics can degrade by abrasion, by atmospheric agents and by the action of insects or mammals.

Microplastics pose a serious threat to small marine living beings, which tend to feed on them, mistaking them for plankton. These minor organisms are in turn inserted into the food chain and ingested by larger living beings and their predators.

Microplastics and effects on marine fauna and human health

The chain can continue until it reaches our tables. Controlling the release of these plastics into the environment therefore means safeguarding marine fauna. Many marine animals such as seagulls or seals have ingested microplastics, affecting health.

Recent studies have shown that pollution by microplastics has reached the food chain affecting not only marine fauna but also foods such as sea salt, beer and honey. Although no specific studies have been conducted, there is also the possibility that the fragments reach our tables through the flesh; in fact, poultry and pigs are also fed with flours obtained from small fish that can be contaminated.

Some studies have found that a person can ingest up to 5 grams of it in a week. The German Institute for Food Risk Assessment has invited the European Food Safety Authority to investigate to understand what are the effects of microplastics on human health.

Microplastics have been found inside the human organism, particularly in the placenta of gestating fetuses and in the blood circulation. Further traces of microplastic were found throughout the lung tissues.