With more and more microplastics found in the food we eat, we need to be more vigilant. Microplastics can now be found everywhere, in soil, oceans, vegetables and fish. A study also found the presence of microplastics in the human placenta.
The adverse effects of microplastics on health also vary, such as reproductive development problems to the risk of chronic disease. For that, there are several ways that we can do. Here’s the full review.
- Using eco-friendly bottles
Instead of drinking from a plastic bottle, you should use one made of glass or stainless steel. This is because bottled water is more likely to be exposed to microplastics. It would also be better if you drink from water that has been filtered first.
- Avoid heating food in plastic containers
The plastic material in the containers we use to heat food in the microwave can turn into microplastics. To avoid increasing the number of microplastics in the food we consume, you should use a special glass container for microwave.
- Reduce consumption of processed foods
These processed foods not only have low nutritional quality, but also have high levels of microplastics. This effect is very bad for children. Instead, choose whole foods and minimally processed foods.
- Use plastic-free cleaning kits
Reducing exposure to microplastics in the body is not only through packaging or choosing food ingredients. We also need to pay attention to the tools and cleaning products used. For that, you should choose a minimal plastic or made from natural materials. For example, for a dish scrubber, we can use a loofah.
- Limit seafood consumption
Microplastics have been found in 386 aquatic life and more than half are consumed. Studies show that microplastics and even smaller particles (nanoparticles) are not only present in the intestines of fish. They can move to the muscle tissue of the fish we eat.
Foods with the Most Microplastics
The following are the types of food that according to experts contain the most microplastics.
- Fruits and Vegetables
A number of recent studies have found the presence of microplastics in vegetables and fruits. One of the fruits with the most microplastics is apples. An apple has an average of 195,500 plastic particles per gram. Meanwhile, the most contaminated vegetables are broccoli and carrots. Research has also shown that microplastics penetrate the roots of lettuce and wheat plants.
According to a 2018 study by Incheon National University, South Korea, and Greenpeace East Asia, more than 90% of sample salt brands sourced from 21 countries contained microplastics. Another study by the Hong Kong Consumer Council found 114 to 17,200 milligrams of microplastic per kilogram of salt tested.
- Bottled water
Although tap water and bottled water contain microplastics, the researchers found that bottled water contained twice as many microplastic particles as tap water. One of the biggest sources of microplastic consumption globally is via bottled water and tap water.
A 2021 study found microplastics in packaged rice. Although the packaging itself makes no difference in the concentration of microplastics, washing rice before cooking reduces the amount of microplastics by 20 to 40%.
- Fish and shellfish
The amount of plastic waste dumped into the sea causes a high amount of microplastic ingested by fish. Fish and other organisms that are also preyed upon drive the cycle of microplastic consumption. Even commercially farmed fish tend to ingest microplastics through their fish meal.
The amount of microplastics varies across a wide range of marine life. Microplastics are usually stored in the intestines of animals, so seafood consumed without being discarded tends to contain higher amounts of microplastics. Examples are clams, oysters, and prawns.