Dr. Patricia Farrell on Medika Life

Eating Plastic in Every Bite We Take and Never Knowing the Effect on Our Health

Microplastic has so infused our ecosystem and our bodies that it can be found in the deepest oceans as well as our organs and even our blood. Our internal environment is compromised and so is our heal

Plastic was supposed to be the answer to our prayers in everything from keeping food fresh in our fridges to manufacturing new and cheaper household and personal items. We gladly rushed to include it in every aspect of our life and our healthcare systemnever knowing the dangers that lurked within its chemistry and ultimate breakdown. 

Now our world, and our bodies, even our blood, are carrying an unholy load of this material, and many will go to our graves with plastic as part of our remains. The price to be paid for plastics that pollute on the micro-level is becoming apparent, but what can we do, and how much damage will it cause every living thing on Earth?

Prior research on the ocean floor had discovered that microplastics and nanoplastics had settled and become a part of the aquatic environment. Once there, they were incorporated into both bacteria and filter-feeding phytoplankton, which were then ingested by filter-feeding sea creatures.

Seagrass meadows in the Mediterranean have been doing their best in the war against plastic ocean pollution. Mysterious orbs, named “Neptune balls,” appearing on beaches along the Spanish coast have revealed their true intent — survival of the oceans.

The oceans themselves have a solution that has been working against the hidden toxicity escaping our peering eyes. Now the ocean’s answer is becoming apparent. Seagrass meadows not only protect delicate beaches but the sea as well.

The removal of microplastic accumulation in the marine environment is facilitated by the development of microbial biofilms that form on the microplastic surface. The production of these biofilms is through colonization by microorganisms. This film then provides a sticky matrix, perfect for adhesion to ocean vegetation.

But the meadows themselves may be under attack by another force — urbanization. The decline of these meadows has been noted, and some recovery is shown, but only by decreasing urbanization nearby.

The advent of synthetic fibers to make fabric for clothing in the 1930s was the dawn of the microplastic pollution era. Cleaning clothing in washing machines or any vigorous movement to launder them, especially polyester, polyester-cotton blends, and acrylic fibers, releases microplastic into the wash water.

Natural fibers have contributed their share of pollution in the environment. Research “studies on the transport of hazardous chemicals by natural fibers in aquatic environments are rare….” However, they are still pollutants through the chemicals they may contain or the cleaning processes.

When you eat any foods caught from the seas, farmed in ocean bays or inland tanks, or in feedlot operations, the danger still lurks, safe from the naked eye as it enters the food chain

When plastic ends up in the environment, it tends to bind with environmental pollutants. With plastic that moves through the food chain, the attached toxins can also move and accumulate in animal fat and tissue through a process called bio-accumulation.

Whether you eat fruits or fish, you may still not be safe from plastic consumption because it’s used everywhere. The plasticizers and pesticides (PE and PP) are being ingested with every bite. You are then giving those toxic products access to every square inch of your body, and they will deposit or transform in you. How can they harm you?

The harm included cell death and allergic reactions, and the research is the first to show this happens at levels relevant to human exposure. However, the health impact to the human body is uncertain because it is not known how long microplastics remain in the body before being excreted.

Estimates are that 50K particles a year are consumed by humans, and they are found in everything from drinking water to beer, sugar, salt, and shellfish. Ever wonder if that luscious fresh mussel was safe? Maybe not.

According to the study, the authors of the study found the microplastics found in the mussels were from single-use plastic products, fabrics, and ropes from the fishing industry. The findings were published online recently in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

Is pollution a problem for the third-world or each one of us? If you eat, it’s a problem for you, and I don’t know that organic products might not contain some form of plastic pollution. Are you sure that olive oil is safe?

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Pat Farrell PhDhttps://medium.com/@drpatfarrell
I'm a licensed psychologist in NJ/FL and have been in the field for over 30 years serving in most areas of mental health, psychiatry research, consulting, teaching (post-grad), private practice, consultant to WebMD and writing self-help books. Currently, I am concentrating on writing articles and books.

DR PATRICIA FARRELL

Medika Editor: Mental Health

I'm a licensed psychologist in NJ/FL and have been in the field for over 30 years serving in most areas of mental health, psychiatry research, consulting, teaching (post-grad), private practice, consultant to WebMD and writing self-help books. Currently, I am concentrating on writing articles and books.

Patricia also acts in an editorial capacity for Medika's mental health articles, providing invaluable input on a wide range of mental health issues.

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