The Plastic You

Can’t See


Microplastics and nanoplastics are showing up in air, waters, mountains, deep ocean trenches … and headlines.  This month Plastic Solutions recommends one of these headlines, an interactive multimedia feature from Orb Media that is a broad and compelling primer on microplastics.  It is a worthy read and can be shared without the nuisance of a pay wall. For the uninitiated, the article may be shocking.  It will leave readers with a better understanding of the huge extent and global nature of a problem that affects human and animal health everyday, and yet is not well acknowledged. 


The article, “The  Invisibles: The Plastic Inside Us”, comes in 6 chapters. It begins with a report on drinking water from cities around the globe, then shares results from a 10-month investigation into the problem.  The research was done in cooperation with the University of Minnesota’s Department of Public Health. It presents a broad summary of the sources of microplastics, including road dust from tires, fibers from clothing, paints, microbeads, and break-up from macroplastics.  It charts the known health dangers from various plastic sources, including the hormone disruptors in many plasticizers, and the antimony leached from PET bottles when exposed to heat, such as when left in a car.


This article  describes the huge extent and toxicity of microplastics, their interconnected and global nature, and a sense of further research needed.  An annotated list following the article provides sources of research for further study. (See the Credits tab near the top of the article.)


Orb Media is a partner in The Trust Project, an international consortium of news organizations promoting standards of transparency in journalism that works with technology platforms to improve the quality of information presented to the public.


Link: “The Invisibles: The Plastic Inside Us”


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