Your food and water are contaminated with plastic. Here's why it's in the food system and how it could affect your health.
For anyone living in the U.S. in 2019, plastic is nearly impossible to avoid: It lines soup cans, leaches out of storage containers, hides in household dust, and is found inside of toys, electronics, shampoo, cosmetics, and countless other products. It's used to make thousands of single-use items, from grocery bags to forks to candy wrappers.
But what many people don't know is that we're doing more than just using plastic. We're ingesting it, too. When you eat a bite of food or even have a sip of water, you're almost certainly taking in tiny plastic particles along with it. These ubiquitous fragments are known as microplastics.
Because research into microplastics is so new, there’s not yet enough data to say exactly how they’re affecting human health, says Jodi Flaws, Ph.D., a professor of comparative biosciences and associate director of the Interdisciplinary Environmental Toxicology Program at the University of Illinois.