It’s probably not a big surprise that the term ‘microplastics’ sounds familiar to you, since it has been a huge topic in the news recently. In fact, for the first time ever, researchers at the Free University have found microplastics in human blood. Not even a few people, but with 80% of the test subjects. That’s really terrifying and the news spread like fire. But what are microplastics actually, what was the research about and how about microplastics in toothpaste? Smyle is convinced that everyone should know what is up considering microplastics, because it affects everyone!
Microplastics are pieces of plastic smaller than 5 mm, sometimes you can’t even see them. They aren’t degradable and disintegrate into smaller and smaller pieces. Hence the name microplastics. These parts can now be found almost everywhere. In our cosmetic products, clothes and other products, via rivers and oceans in our food and even in our bodies. Crazy, right?
There are two groups: Primary and secondary microplastics. Primary microplastics are intentionally incorporated into cosmetics, dishwashing and cleaning products, for example, to perform a particular function. Secondary microplastics come from the wear and tear of car tires and nylon or polyester clothing, for example.
The single biggest culprit is still plastic waste. Packaging, bags, bottles and you name it. When these come into the environment, they fall apart into smaller and smaller pieces. Till they become microplastics.
Microplastics found in human blood
After the scientific magazine ‘Environmental International’ published the research from the VU, other platforms followed immediately. The scientists can’t tell much about the impact and damage, but they do have their concerns about the long-term effects. The study also shows how microplastics travel through the body and eventually settle in the organs. The half of the taken samples contain PET-plastic, which often get used for drink bottles. One-third consisted of residue from food packaging, mostly polystyrene. A quarter involved plastics from which bags are usually made; polyethylene.
These products are sadly enough not the only problem. Of cosmetics such as hair gel, makeup, deodorant, and face creams, 87% contain microplastics. And we haven’t even talked about the packaging yet. Since the 60s, plastics have been intentionally added to these products. There’s even a word for it: microbeads. These bind ingredients, dilute, clean or create foam. From scrub to toothpaste, almost all of them are full of microplastics.
When you use such a product, the microbeads eventually end up in our water systems. These parts are so microscopic small, they slip through our water system and end up from our groundwater, in our rivers and eventually pollute the sea.
Food and drinkwaterUnfortunately, these annoying, tiny parts are therefore also found in our food and drinking water. Microplastics have already been found in beer, honey, tap water, tea bags and fish and shellfish. How harmful this is, is not yet fully known. But, again, science has its big concerns about the future. After all, plastic hardly decomposes and more plastics are being produced every single day. This is bad for the environment, humans and the animal kingdom. Fortunately, more and more plastic-free alternatives are available. In fact, microplastics are one of the reasons we founded Smyle! Want to know what's in your cosmetics? Then download the free Beat The Microbead app. If you want to be sure to brush without microplastics, choose Smyle!