Anne McNeilA researcher at the University of Michigan, she spoke recently at Akron, where the American Chemical Society awarded her the American Chemical Society’s Distinguished Speaker Award Section Award.
McNeil described in alarming detail not only the danger microplastics pose for the environment and living ecosystems but also how they are finding their way into our bodies.
McNeil states that microplastics can be broken down from larger pieces, and in three forms.
They are everywhere you can see.
Studies have shown that large amounts of almost microscopic plastic, as small as pollen grains, can be found all over the wild lands of the United States. National parks in western CanadaTo the pristine wastes High Arctic. They swirl in the great Pacific, and they are plentiful in the oceans. Garbage patchAmong other famous gyres.
McNeil’s talk in Akron was focused on land-based microplastic exposure and two main sources of fibers and particles.
Laundry, she stated, is a significant source for microplastic pollution. Fresh water systemsParticularly the washing and drying of fleece materials. Thankfully Congress 2015The sale of microbeads made from plastic in facial scrubs was banned. With every load of laundry, tiny plastic fibers made from fleece jackets and blankets create a soup full of microplastics. Some of these particles can make their way into our body through our skin. Water we drinkWe eat fish and shellfish as well as other foods.
Anne McNeil is an academic at the University of Michigan. She studies ways to remove microplastics out of wastewater treatment plants. [Wikipedia]
McNeil also identified cars as a major source for microplastics, focusing on wear from rubber tires. She estimates that 1.5 billion vehicles around the world produce 4.0 millions tons of synthetic fibers each year. This is due to the abrasion caused by driving on roads.
She stated that washing your clothes and driving are two of the worst ways to release microplastics into the atmosphere.
However, the number of microplastics we consume is the most shocking statistic.
McNeil said that the average person probably gets five grams of plastic every week from what they eat and drink.
She explained that “this is equivalent of eating a credit-card every week”.
Even the act of breathing indoors can have serious consequences.
“One study found that you inhale an average of 68,000 microplastics per day through your breathing.
McNeil claims that the health effects from microplastic ingestion and inhalation remain unclear. However, preliminary studies have shown these tiny inert pieces can lodge in organ systems such as the liver, kidneys, and brain where they resist degradation, causing chronic inflammation, and other health problems.
We’ve made quite a mess with our love for cheap and convenient plastics.
McNeil believes we can turn the tide. She is looking for ways to Remove microplasticsfrom municipal water treatment system. She also suggests that there are other solutions that can be found, which she believes should be up to industry and policy makers.