Microplastics have now been detected in meat, milk, and the blood of livestock animals, according to a new study. Products in supermarkets and on Dutch farms have been found to contain particles, but the health impacts on humans are unknown.
Microplastic contamination has been reported in beef and pork for the first time. It has also been reported in the blood of cows and pigs on farms. Scientists from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VUA) in the Netherlands found particles in nearly 75 percent of the meat and milk products that they tested. They found the particles in every blood sample in their pilot test.
The scientists tested 12 samples of cows’ blood and 12 samples of pigs’ blood and found microplastics, polyethylene, and polystyrene in every sample. They took 25 milk samples from supermarket cartons, milk tanks on farms, and hand milking. 18 of the samples, including one of each type, had microplastics. Seven of the eight samples of beef had pollutants, and five of the eight pork samples were also contaminated.
They found microplastics in every sample of the animal pellet feed tested, which they believe may be how it is getting to the animals. The food products were packaged in plastic which they believe could be one of the sources.
Researchers from VUA also found microplastics in human blood for the first time in March of this year. They used the same method to test animal products.
Although the impact on humans or animals is not known, researchers are worried because microplastics cause damage to human cells, and air particles are known to enter the body and cause millions of premature deaths every year.
Maria Westerbos at the Plastic Soup Foundation, which commissioned the research, said: “With microplastics present in livestock feed, it is not surprising that a clear majority of the meat and dairy products tested contained microplastics. We urgently need to rid the world of plastic in animal feed to protect the health of livestock and humans.”
Microplastics have been found everywhere, from Mount Everest to the depths of the oceans, and it’s even been found in the placentas of pregnant women. It’s more important now than ever to move away from single-use plastic. Not only is it horrible for the environment, but now studies like this are revealing how devastating they can be for human cells. Through food, the air, and other ways, we are constantly consuming tiny plastic particles.
Globally, we produce 300 million tons of plastic every year, 78 percent of which is NOT reclaimed or recycled. Around 8.8 million tons of plastic get dumped into the oceans every year! 700 marine animals are faced with extinction due to the threat that plastic poses to them in the form of entanglement, pollution, and ingestion. 50 percent of sea turtles have plastic in their stomachs. By 2050, 99 percent of all seabird species will have ingested plastic waste. According to a study by the World Economic Forum, there will be one tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish by 2025, and if things go on business as usual, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.
Read more about how companies like Facebook, Tupperware, Google, Dove, Budweiser, Carlsberg, and FIJI Water are working towards reducing plastic pollution. Places around the world like Tel Aviv, California, Baltimore, Scotland, and many more are banning various single-use plastics, and others are coming up with creative ways to recycle and use plastic waste.
There are products you may be using or habits you may have that contribute to plastic pollution. Learn more about how the use of Teabags, Cotton Swabs, Laundry, Contact Lenses, Glitter, and Sheet Masks pollute our oceans so you can make more informed decisions going forward. There are also numerous simple actions and switches that can help cut plastic out of our lives including, making your own cosmetics, shampoo, toothpaste, soap, household cleaners, using mason jars, reusable bags/bottles/straws, and avoiding microbeads!
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- Do What You Can: Reduce waste, plant trees, eat local, travel responsibly, reuse stuff, say no to single-use plastics, recycle, vote smart, switch to cold water laundry, divest from fossil fuels, save water, shop wisely, donate if you can, grow your own food, volunteer, conserve energy, compost, and don’t forget about the microplastics and microbeads lurking in common household and personal care products!