Plastic is everywhere. It's hard to imagine a world without plastic. It is a versatile material and has a lot of assets over other materials. Just look around you, you will see items that are made of, or have incorporated, plastic.
But let's focus on the things you can't see or are hard to see. I'm talking about plastic so small, it has its own definition: microplastic, any kind of plastic fragment that is less than 5 mm in length.
Where do these fragments come from? Well, some are man-made. Think of facial scrubs or microbeads in toothpaste. The secondary source comes from the fragmentation and weathering of larger objects, like the wear and tear of plastic products during normal use or fibers released from fabric during washing or drying.
Microplastics are everywhere, from rivers to oceans, from soil to air. Animals consume and accumulate those plastics and end up on our plates. However, the prevalent source of microplastic in food is seafood. Being on top of the food chain, is eating plastic harmful to us humans?
Actually, it is not really clear if ingested plastic is unhealthy to us. Research revealed microplastic eaten by fish remain in the gut and do not move into muscle tissue, which is what we eat.
But scientists remain worried, too little is known about the effects of plastic in food. And over time, micro plastics will even break down even further into nanoplastic, too small to see, able to enter the cells, and move into tissues and organs. Scientists don't have the technique to determine nanoplastic in food, research on the consequenses are very limited.
In the meantime, plastic will continue to contaminate the environment. Like it or not, plastic will be part of the ecosystem, unless we come up with a way to filter everything out, or stop using plastic altogether, but I don't see that happen in my lifetime. Maybe in a distant future, plastic will become part of evolution?