Plastics are everywhere. They’re in our oceans, killing our marine life. And they’re clogging up our landfills with no end in sight. It’s a catastrophe for the environment, any way you slice it. And it’s also wreaking invisible havoc on human health.
In fact, scientists have actually detected tiny “microplastic” particles in our ocean water, seafood, and drinking water. And most recently, they’ve even discovered significant concentrations of microplastics out in the Arctic and the Alps.
From the Greenland Sea to the side of the road
German researchers have discovered that the atmosphere absorbs tiny plastic particles. And as you might have guessed, this allows them to travel significant distances… and then settle into new, remote areas with the falling snow.
In fact, one recent study found that a faraway region in the Pyrenees saw more than 350 microplastic particles per square meter of snowfall every day—despite being isolated from any cities or industrial facilities.
Scientists also looked at snow samples from the Fram Strait (a waterway between the Greenland Sea and the Arctic Ocean), as well as remote areas in the Swiss Alps, and more populated European locations, like Bavaria.
And get this: They found microplastics in 20 out of 21 samples. Concentrations were lower in Arctic snow, compared to snow from Bavarian roads. But I think you’ll agree that’s hardly reassuring.
Ultimately, the scientists found high concentrations everywhere—no matter how isolated an area. The types of polymers varied, but they were primarily from varnish, rubber, polyethylene, and polyamide.
Arctic samples turned up nitrile rubber, acrylates, and paints—commonly used in hoses and surface coatings—which would suggest that some of the plastic came from ships and oil platforms. Samples taken from Bavarian roadsides, meanwhile, mainly featured rubber from car tires.
Plastic is now an airborne threat
Here’s the bottom line: If the world’s snow is packed with plastic, this isn’t just a problem for our waterways. Our air is now polluted with it, too.
Studies on pollen—which is about the same size as microplastic particles—illustrate how this works. Once airborne, pollen is also able to travel all the way to the Arctic. As is Saharan dust, which scientists have found as far away as the Atlantic Northeast and Caribbean.
Now, it appears that microplastics travel exactly the same way. And at what cost?
Well… we don’t really know for sure, because as of yet, there’s hardly any research. Not on the concentrations that are lurking in the air, the amounts of plastic humans inhale every day, or on its long-term health consequences.
But based on what we do know, there’s plenty of reason to worry: Researchers from King’s College London looked at 50 primary school students, and found that microplastics from car tires were significantly impacting the children’s lung development.
Another study out of Denmark found concentrated microplastics—including polyester, polyethylene, and nylon—in indoor air, too. (Proving again that the problem isn’t just limited to smoggy, industrial areas.)
And yet, as recently as August 2019, the World Health Organization concluded that there’s “no evidence so far” that these microplastics pose a risk to humans. Do I really need to say more?
Tragically, I don’t think so. And as I disclosed in the August 2016 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives (“Buyer beware: ‘BPA-free’ products are every bit as dangerous”), BPA-free options won’t help tackle this crisis. And they aren’t a safer choice. Subscribers have access to this and all of my past content in the archives. So if you haven’t already, sign up today!
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“Are Microplastics in the Atmosphere a Health Risk?” Medscape Medical News, 08/23/19. (medscape.com/viewarticle/917200)