Microplastics found in human blood
The research, published in the journal Environment International, showed that some of the blood samples contained two or three different types of plastic.
The discovery also showed that the particles can move around the body and lodge in organs. Although the health impact is still unknown, researchers are concerned as microplastics have been shown to damage human cells in the laboratory and air pollution particles are already entering the body and causing millions of premature deaths. per year.
Previous research has shown that microplastics in the environment contaminate human food and drink. An example being the preparation of food for bottle-fed babies, potentially adding millions of microplastic particles per day into their systems.
Microplastics are tiny plastic particles that result from both the development of commercial products and the breakdown of larger plastics. As a pollutant, microplastics have already been proven to be harmful to the environment as well as animal health, so it’s no surprise that they have found their way into the human bloodstream.
Plastics (including plastic packaging) make up 12% of global solid waste, according to UBS’s white paper, The Future of Waste. The main drivers of plastic waste are excessive plastic packaging and low levels of recycling.
But despite their impact on the environment, plastics remain an important part of the global economy. Plastic production has grown from 15 million metric tons in 1964 to 311 million metric tons in 2014, with volumes expected to double again over the next two decades as plastic use expands.
Today, 95% of the material value of plastic packaging, or $80 billion to $120 billion a year, is lost after just one use, according to the UBS article. Only 14% of plastic packaging is collected for recycling. And taking into account the additional loss of value during sorting and reprocessing, only 5% of the material value is retained for later use. Plastics that are recycled are mostly recycled in lower value applications that are no longer recyclable after use.
However, several megatrends are fueling the demand for more efficient waste management and recycling: population growth, rising living standards, public health, industrialization and urbanization in emerging markets.
Michelle Laliberte, thematic investment associate, says that “in general, tighter regulation and higher waste volumes are expected to drive higher capital expenditures that could benefit a wide range of waste management-related businesses. “.
But solving the problem of plastic waste is complex, with Laliberte also noting that “the advantages of plastic include its lightness, low cost and durability. More durable or biodegradable alternatives to plastic, usually called bioplastics, are still expensive to produce on a large scale, and traditional alternatives like glass can be heavier to transport.
For these and other reasons, CIO sees advances in recycling technology as a key part of the solution. To learn more about the different approaches to managing plastic waste, as well as the opportunities and challenges in the space, explore this site for information on how mainstream and innovative companies are tackling the problem. .
Did you know?*
- Humans have produced 18.2 trillion pounds of plastic – the equivalent of a billion elephants – since large-scale plastic production began in the early 1950s. Nearly 80% of that plastic is found now in landfills, according to researchers. By 2050, an additional 26.5 trillion pounds will be produced worldwide.
- According to a study by The Pew Charitable Trusts.
- You eat or breathe around 2,000 tiny plastic particles every week, the World Wildlife Federation found in a 2019 study. Most are ingested from bottled water and tap water.
Read more in the UBS report: Future of Waste: Types, Sources and Impact
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Main contributor: Joe Melvin
*According to USA Today