The average American consumes more than 70,000 particles of microplastics per year, according to a study published in the American Chemistry Society journal Environmental Science & Technology. The health effects of microplastic consumption are yet unclear.
The mass production of plastics began in the 1940s, and improper disposal has led to their appearance in some of the world’s most remote locations.
This paper studied the amount of microplastics in food and how much people consume each year. The researchers reviewed 26 previous studies that analyzed the amounts of microplastic particles in fish, shellfish, added sugars, salts, alcohol, tap or bottled water, and air. Other foods were not included in the analysis because the data were lacking.
Using the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the team assessed how much of the foods men, women and children consume. The estimated microplastic consumption ranged from 74,000 to 121,000 particles per year, depending on age and sex.
Since the study only considered 15% of Americans’ caloric intake, the values are likely underestimates. Additional research is needed to fully understand the health effects of ingesting microplastic particles.