Recent studies have found that microplastics are nearly ubiquitous. You can find them everywhere.
For example, one study looked at bottled water. In one single liter of bottled water, they were able to find around 240,000 plastic fragments that were large enough to be detected. That’s nearly a quarter of a million plastic particles in just one water bottle.
Roughly 10% of these were microplastics, which run in size from 5 millimeters to 1 micrometer. The other 90% were known as nanoplastics. These are similar, but smaller, clocking in under one single micrometer. To give some context to how big a micrometer is, one human hair is as thick as roughly 70 micrometers.
It’s not just water. Studies have also found microplastics in blood, in placentas, in waste and even in people’s lungs.
How is this similar to asbestos?
The similarity to asbestos is that you can inhale or consume these microplastics, just as you would asbestos fibers. Both are microscopic. You can’t see them with the human eye. You likely will not know that you are inhaling them.
Even so, these particles can get within the human body. As noted above, microplastics have been found in the lungs. With asbestos, the lungs are often impacted, as the particles get into the tissues that surround them. This can develop into mesothelioma of the lungs, a form of aggressive cancer. Microplastics are beginning to spread throughout people’s bodies in the same way, and they appear to be far more common than asbestos.
Issues like this will be very interesting to track moving forward, along with their potential connections to disease. Those who are suffering need to know what legal options they have.