Natalia Welzenbach-Marcu | October 24th, 2018
“Microplastic” is something of a buzzword, catching people’s attention as a leading cause for concern in terms of water and soil pollution. Many types of plastic are not biodegradable and break down instead into smaller and smaller versions of itself, causing major problems for the delicate ecosystem in the ocean. When these pieces reach sizes of less than 5 millimeters, they become, by definition, microplastics.
There are many sources for microplastics, including plastic bags, plastic packaging, and even clothing, something that more companies are becoming aware of. “Green” methods of packing products and a decreased use of plastic bags are slowly starting to become the norm, but there is still a long way to go before single-use plastic ceases to exist.
Because of their size, microplastics can easily be ingested by animals and humans as these plastic particles find their way into food and tap water. A recent pilot study led by researchers from the Medical University of Vienna found evidence of plastic particles in stool samples collected from a variety of people spanning several nationalities. The small size of the study sample is something to be cautious of, and a larger study would reveal more accurate data.