We could be ingesting about 5g of plastic each week, the equivalent of a credit card: Study

Photo: Brian Yurasits/Unsplash
Photo: Brian Yurasits/Unsplash

A new study has found that people could be ingesting about 5g of plastic every week on average. To give you a clearer idea on how much plastic that is, it’s equivalent to the weight of a credit card. That adds up to about 21g a month, and just over 250g (or 100,000 particles) each year.

The study, commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and done by the microplastics research team at the University of Newscastle in Australia, said that people consumed approximately 2,000 tiny pieces of plastic (less than 5mm in size) weekly from the air, food, and water. These particles are created when plastic litter disintegrates.

More than 50 research papers from across the globe were collated to determine the ingestion rates, including 33 that studied plastic consumption through food and drinks such as shellfish, beer, drinking water, and salt. But the WWF said that the results could be an underestimate, as microplastics in food staples like rice, wheat, corn, milk, and bread have not been examined yet.

However, it was clear that the largest source of plastic ingestion was drinking water — including groundwater, surface water, tap water, and bottled water. Shellfish was another key source (0.5g per week), as these creatures are usually eaten whole, which means we consume their digestive system as well.

The impact of all this on human health is still unclear, as such studies are currently underway, but the WWF said it hoped the findings would “serve as a wake-up call” to governments. It called for governments to set measurable national targets for plastic reduction and waste management, as well as legislation to hold companies accountable in terms of their plastic production.

However, despite the seriousness of the report, netizens in Singapore still managed to find humor in the situation, especially in regards to the credit card reference.

Trolls will be trolls.

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