In a recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Vienna, plastic particles were discovered in the brains of mice who consumed water containing plastic packaging made from polystyrene. Polystyrene, known as styrofoam, is a type of plastic commonly found in numerous food packaging materials, such as to-go containers and beverage cups. If polystyrene and other particles can enter mice’s bodies after feasting from plastic packaging, they can certainly make their way into the human body as well.
Plastic pollution is a major threat to both humans and wildlife. Scientists estimate that there are about 5 trillion pieces of plastic in our oceans today – enough to circle the Earth over 400 times.
— Greenpeace International (@Greenpeace) April 18, 2022
The researchers’ discoveries highlight the severity of plastic pollution affecting not only the environment, but also our health. As the public continues to consume products packed with plastic materials, pathways are created for harmful particles and chemicals to enter the human body.
Evidently, plastic particles have infiltrated various parts of the human body, including the major organs. The gravity of this issue is further reinforced by research findings disclosing how plastic exposure adversely affects our health. For instance, a strong correlation between plastic pollution and reproductive disorders has been indicated.
#PlasticPollution is known for its impacts on ecosystems, but did you know that it can also impact human health?
According to research, micro- and nanoplastics can enter the human body via:
— UN Biodiversity (@UNBiodiversity) April 3, 2022
In an effort to raise awareness of plastic pollution’s impact, YR Media reached out to Elise Marie, a biotechnician healthcare professional from Contra Costa County.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
YR Media: What is your take on plastic pollution? Do you have any strong opinions about it?
Elise Marie: I have always been aware of plastic pollution in the environment, especially in the ocean. Plastic culture is so normalized as we commonly see the food we eat and the products we use packaged in plastic. It was always something in the back of my mind.
YR: How did you react after learning about plastic contamination, not only in oceanic ecosystems but also the human body? Why did you react this way?
EM: Today, I used up to 7 pairs of gloves, and those glovers were wrapped in plastic beforehand. When our materials are wrapped in plastic, we do not want anything to contaminate our supplies. Working in the medical field, I see a lot of plastic being used and wasted. It is concerning learning about plastics winding up in our bodies.
YR: Why is it important to raise awareness about plastic pollution?
EM: I think it is important to raise awareness about this topic because our behaviors influence global warming and pollution. In turn, it does affect our health. We have to be mindful of our environment because we live in it.
YR: What do you think of consuming from plastic packaging from this point on?
EM: I will start to be mindful of the packaging I choose to consume from. Although it seems inevitable to cut plastic products from consumer packaging, there are steps we can take as a community. Many big companies rely on plastics as their main source of product consumption. However, this marketing strategy needs to change. I suggest that those big companies use more biodegradable materials, so it does not create pollution and hazards to our health.
YR: What will you do with this information moving forward and apply it to your mission as a healthcare worker?
EM: If I witness someone using extra plastic supplies when they do not need to, I will bring up this matter. I recommend that anyone talk to their manager, supervisor, co-workers, patients, friends, family, peers, or anyone in their reach about how to cut back on plastic consumption.
To take action against plastic pollution, participating in cleanups and anti-litter initiatives in your community is encouraged. For more information about plastic pollution and how you can take action, visit www.greenpeace.org.
*The interviewee’s name has been changed.