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Plastic Contamination: How Much Are You Consuming Weekly?

We know what you’re thinking — you don’t consume plastic. That tough stuff isn’t edible! How would plastic, like the material used in plastic water bottles you keep in your pantry, find its way into your digestive system?

How Much Plastic Are You Consuming?

It may seem unthinkable, but you are ingesting a sizeable amount of plastic every week, through no choice of your own. A landmark study by the University of Newcastle in Australia found that people around the world consume approximately 2,000 particles of plastic every week. This comes to about 5 grams of plastic per week, or roughly the size of a credit card.

Where is this plastic coming from, and how is it getting into your body? Plastics that you consume can originate as cloth fibers, microbeads, and tiny pieces of plastic, called microplastics, which degrade and shrink over time due to environmental exposure.

While you can inhale plastic from the air directly, most of your plastic consumption comes from everyday food and drinks. Primary sources of plastic consumption include drinking water, beer, shellfish, and salt.

What Are Microplastics?

What makes a piece of plastic a “microplastic?” The size – microplastics are defined as any particle of plastic measuring less than 5 millimeters in diameter. Microplastics get into the environment in the form of tiny plastic, like shower gel microbeads or tire abrasion, or as the degrading fragments of larger plastic items like bags and bottles.

The problem of microplastics is only expected to worsen as plastic production increases globally. Currently, about 330 million metric tons of plastic are manufactured every year around the world. By the year 2050 that figure is expected to triple.

How Is Plastic Harmful to Humans?

The long-term effects of plastic consumption have not been widely studied, but scientists suspect that the potential hazards of chronic plastic consumption are more dangerous than is currently understood. However, preliminary studies in humans and animals have linked plastic consumption and exposure to respiratory problems, digestive tract inflammation, infertility, and a heightened risk of developing cancer or premature death.

As we noted above, drinking water contains a large percentage of the microplastics you will consume in your lifetime. Keep in mind that “drinking water” refers to both tap water and bottled water. Store-bought bottled water contains just as much plastic as the water from your tap.

According to the study, as much as 1,769 particles of the average 2,000 plastic particles you consume every week are in your drinking water. And this isn’t a localized problem: 94.4% of water samples in the United States analyzed for the study contained plastic fibers.

How to Avoid Consuming Plastic

Plastic is a worldwide contaminant and problem, but you can drastically reduce your weekly plastic consumption by ditching bottled water and outfitting your home with a comprehensive water filter system.

With a 6-Stage Reverse Osmosis System in your kitchen you can rest easy knowing your drinking water has passed through multiple filters and membranes to eliminate the vast majority of small particles to deliver refreshing and pure drinking water. Fill up a reusable stainless steel bottle before you head out to work or to school to enjoy the taste and safety of filtered water throughout the day.