Human Plasticization - Facts & Impacts

The global microplastics crisis continues as tiny plastic particles invade even some of the most remote areas on earth. Medical studies now find that contamination also extends inside human bodies. 

A study in the journal Environmental Science and Technology finds that Americans who drink the recommended amount of water likely consume 4,000 plastic fragments a year through tap water. Those who solely drink bottled water ingest 90,000. 

Research commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund and executed by the University of Newcastle (Australia) recently identified how much plastic we may be consuming. 

The adjacent slideshow illustrates how it adds up over time: 

  • A human consumes roughly one credit card worth of plastic every week (5g)
  • Every other week, people take in plastic equal to 2 earbuds (8g), plus 2 pen caps (1g ea.)
  • Every month, humans ingest roughly 2 water bottles’ worth of plastic (10-11g ea.)
  • Over three months, they ingest the equivalent of 12-½ plastic grocery bags (12.5g)
  • Every year, we consume plastic equal to about 2-½  vinyl records (100g ea.)
  • Over the course of 5 years, we take in an amount roughly the same as a standard office trash can (approx. 900g) filled with 875 plastic straws (.4g ea.)
Microplastics may pass through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream, affecting vital organs and altering immune function. Chemicals leaching from plastic pipes, bottles, and microplastics further impact health. Studies of CPVC, HDPE, PE, PEX, PP, and PVC, materials identified over 160 substances that pass into water, including known toxins and carcinogens such as formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate.