We buy our meat wrapped in plastic; our vegetables are wrapped in saran wrap or conveniently chopped and sold in a clear plastic container. Frozen vegetables are sold in “microwave-safe” plastic bags. We pack our lunches in plastic containers. Our clothes are made out of recycled plastic bottles. It’s no wonder, we are finding microplastic particles in our bodies.

So what? Why do we care? Below are studies that indicate microplastic particles are being found in our blood, lungs, and even placentas. Another research article found that our food wrapped in plastic is a source of increased microplastic contamination in our bodies. Finally, research shows that chemicals in plastic are harmful to our health.

In this study, 2 grams of each food type (chicken, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, and Yorkshire pudding) were taken from plastic-wrapped dinners, and from unwrapped dinners. These foods were digested and the findings indicated that enjoying just one traditional roast dinner can lead to ingesting 230,000 microplastics (microplastics are any plastics that are smaller than 5mm in size).

The foods wrapped in plastic contain 7x more microplastics than individually purchased/non-plastic-wrapped foods, showing that plastic packaging of foods is a route for plastics to get into our bodies. Eating one plastic-wrapped meal daily is the equivalent of eating 2 plastic grocery bags every year. Interestingly, the non-plastic-wrapped foods also cost 37% less.

Listed below are a few more studies showing plastics found in human blood, lung tissue, and placentas:

The following three studies found microplastics in the stool of animals and humans from Spain, Beijing, Asia, and Europe.

Our plastic-wrapped food isn’t the only place we’re being exposed to microplastics. The study that found microplastics in the lungs identified the particles found in the lungs were most likely inhaled. Interestingly, they found that males have more microplastics in their lungs than females.

The following studies find microplastics in everyday self-care items from personal care products to disposable face masks:

Finally, here are a few studies about how microplastics can disrupt our bodies and our health. The first study indicates microplastics can disrupt fat metabolism and cause dysfunction in the liver.

The study linked after that looks at the influence microplastics have on our immune system. I included the conclusion of the article on the immune system because it was interesting to me. The research studies I read, about microplastics, frequently questioned the impact microplastics might have on cancer, the immune system, and other metabolic functions.

Methods: In this review, we have compiled the most important of their perinatal effects on the function of the immune system and their relationship to the development of different types of cancer.

Results/conclusion: The administration of bisphenols and phthalates during critical stages of development affects important immune system components and the immune function; which might be related to the development of different diseases including cancer.

There are simple steps you can take to resume control over some of the plastics in your life. For example, do not cook or store food in plastic containers. When you visit the grocery store, do not buy food stored in plastic wrapping. The first study actually found that buying fresh unwrapped food was far less expensive too! When you visit the meat counter, request that they wrap your meat in parchment paper instead of cellophane and styrofoam wrap (all meat counters used to wrap parchment paper and tape it shut). You can also use the website EWG.ORG to reduce other chemical exposures in your life by looking up your self-care products there.

If you’re concerned about how to take control of eliminating plastic pollution from your everyday routine or want to maximize the health of your body to promote chemical detoxification, ask me about it at your next health visit so we can include it in your journey to optimizing wellness.

Yours in health and longevity,
Kristen Clore, OTRL
I-MD & PhD student in Integrative Medicine & Quantum Physics
Holistic Occupational Therapist, Master Nutrition Response Practitioner ®