You worry about pesticides, herbicides and all other kinds of -cides that pop up in your kiddo’s lunch. But what about plastics? According to new research, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, Americans eat somewhere in between 39,000 and 52,000 microplastic particles a year. But before you ditch grocery store life for 100 percent homegrown eats, read on for more info on what you can do to reduce the risks.

Before you start stressing (or freaking out) over this study’s stats, take a look at what the numbers mean. The researchers looked at foods/beverages that make up 15 percent of most Americans’ diets. And while they did find significant plastic contamination, there are steps you can take now to potentially minimize this issue.

photo: Mali Maeder via Pexels

If you’ve never heard of microplastics—these are super-small (sesame seed-sized_ particles of plastic that get into food, water and the air. Humans ingest the plastic particles while eating and drinking. We also inhale these particles just by breathing.

After reviewing data from 26 studies (representing 3,600 samples) the researchers found that air, bottled water and seafood were the largest sources of microplastics.

Switching from bottled to tap water is another way to reduce exposure to microplastics. According to the data review, people who get their daily water intake completely through bottled water may ingest an extra 90,000 microplastic particles each year. In comparison, tap water drinkers ingest 4,000.

Reducing the number of plastic products you use, making a dent in the microplastic particle problem.

—Erica Loop

 

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