ARE NANOPLASTICS IN ALL FOOD?
Are nanoplastics in all food? Greenmatters.com on August 17, 2020 reported this …
“Microplastics may be tiny, but they are a big problem — even bigger than you may have thought. Researchers recently tested various organs from people who had passed away for microplastics, and they found traces of microplastics in every single organ. This is one of the first pieces of proof we have that microplastics can persist in our bodies. But just how serious of a problem is this?”
I did not know that I was likely eating plastic daily. A friend of mine residing in a senior’s residence in Hamilton Ontario made me aware. She reached out to me concerned that they are being fed so much processed food, that their consumption of nanoplastics is likely greater. She was also concerned that the plastic and styrofoam plates they have been eating off of since the beginning of the pandemic would contribute to the problem in a big way. I agreed to research.
This is what I found. This post is a little longer than usual because I FOUND SO MUCH!
PLASTIC IN THE OCEANS
We are all aware of the plastic situation in our oceans. Single-use plastic contamination of our oceans has reached stunning proportions. The estimate is that between 8 – 14 tons of plastic contaminates oceans YEARLY (Plastics In The Ocean, Statistics 2020), endangering the lives of sea creatures such as sea turtles, sea birds. This plastic breaks down very slowly into nanoplastics and is making its way into the seafood that humans consume. One third of the fish caught for human consumption contains plastic (another great reason for a plant-based diet).
The oceans (97% of all the water on earth) contain plastic that finds its way there from streams to rivers, rivers to lakes and lakes to oceans. Along the way, plastic leaches microplastics (5 mm in size) that breakdown to nanoplastics, which are smaller than a micron. This nanoplastic ends up in the water, then our soil and indeed our fresh produce.
I see less littering today than when I was a kid. Laws and fines have helped. Still, litter contributes to the plastic finding its way into our food supply. Although the breakdown of plastic is very slow, it is happening continuously. Litter starts to break down, leaving plastic contamination everywhere. Luckily, in Canada the government has a plan to be delete plastic waste by 2030. This will keep all plastics in the economy and out of the environment.
According to my findings, we are each consuming 5 grams of plastic a week.This is no small amount. In a year, this is a plateful of plastic! A Plateful of Plastic: Visualizing The Microplastic We Consume, on Reuters site, gives you some perspective.
PROCESSED VS WHOLE FOOD
Let’s look at the problem of plastic in our water. Though some companies claim to make filters that remove this, many of us are consuming plastic in our water daily. This actually increases if we are drinking water bottled in plastic, even with the reduction of BPA (bisphenol A). ALL PLASTICS CONTAIN CHEMICALS.
Now, consider the amount of water used in food processing and production. My friend living in the senior’s home tells me that all of their food is processed. They never get whole, fresh food! But fresh food is at issue too. One of the great things about fruits and veggies is that they are full of fibre, water and healthy nutrients. But fresh produce has been found to contain plastic too. Researchers at the University of Italy, to show just one example, found plastic in lettuce, broccoli, pears and potatoes. I am in love with potatoes and write about Why I Love Potatoes as Vegan Fast Food. This has not changed my mind, but now I am fully aware.
I read New Studies: Microplastics Found In Fruits And Veg at a site called Plastic Soup Foundation. This title made me gasp! I will be honest, I find this research unsettling and I am having trouble with what to do with this new information. Even ORGANIC foods use plastics for packaging etc., once again contributing to the problem.
WHAT TO DO?
The way to stop eating food containing micro and nanoplastics is to stop using plastic altogether. ALL PLASTIC. I do not mean simply you or I, I mean all of us! This is a global issue and a hurculean task that will likely never be accomplished. It would mean the banning of all plastics. The best we can do is reduce our personal plastic use and our consumption, if indeed it worries us.
Visit Nest and Glow, healthy food, plastic food to find more detailed info on this list below.
- Tea bags contain plastic, used in sealing the tea bag. Drink tea made with loose leaves.
- Tinned foods contain plastics. Cans are lined with plastic. Eat fresh to reduce the consumption of plastic. This will not eliminate it in most cases however.
- Plastic is airborne in your home. It is in the dust that settles everywhere. Keep a clean house, dust often.
- Bottled water sold in single-use plastic bottles leaches microplastics into the water. Drink filtered tap water instead. Use glass containers.
- Prepared foods contain plastic. They are also served in plastic. Often they are microwaved, which increases the leaching process. Again, whole food cooking is going to reduce, but not eliminate plastic ingestion. Presumably, the least plastic containing foods would be organic.
- Sea salt contains plastic. Just think about its origin and the info provided above. The best of rock salts will decrease the likelihood of contamination.
- Beer made in the USA and Germany was found to have nanoplastics in the final product. Not surprising considering that beer is 90 to 95% water. I imagine there are organically made beers that may help, if produced with concern for the water supply.
- Lastly, even honey in Europe and South America has been found to contain plastic fibres.
FULL CIRCLE – ARE NANOPLASTICS IN ALL FOOD?
The answer as far as I could find is YES!
Our bodies do not break down ingested plastics. Our governments would like us to believe that small amounts of plastic will not hurt us. Why? Because THEY ALLOW ITS USE! Our babies chew on plastic teething rings.
One of the best known health issues created by plastic consumption is the change in hormonal function. These hormone changes lead to cancers, birth defects, genetic change and skin disease too. You can read much more online. Google it, but be careful of sources. Some are reliable, some are not.
It seems nanoplastics are in all of our food. I was fully unaware of this issue and shared my findings to make more of you aware. I could site pages and pages, give you link upon link. You can research yourself too. I AM ASTOUNDED. Can our bodies handle the plastic we are consuming in our food? My conclusions are these … ALL PLASTIC CONTAINS CHEMICALS. ALL PLASTIC WILL EVENTUALLY BREAK DOWN, albeit slowly. Single-use plastics seems to be the biggest culprit. They are not safe and must be eliminated. WHAT ABOUT THE REST?