Another recent study of the prevalence of microplastics in New Zealand’s marine life found that around 75% of the country’s fish contained the small plastic particles, illustrating that animals on land and at sea are equally vulnerable to plastic pollution (via The Guardian). Although it’s clear that microplastics are prevalent throughout the global food supply, the extent to which the average person is consuming plastic may still come as a surprise.
The University of Newcastle study, which was commissioned by WWF, found that the average person consumes around 2000 tiny pieces of plastic each week, or about 5 grams, which equates to the weight of the average credit card. Researchers compiled data from over 50 microplastic studies to determine the average quantity of the tiny plastics found in food and drink staples like water, fish, sugar, beer, and salt.
“While the awareness of microplastics and their impact on the environment is increasing, this study has helped to provide an accurate calculation of ingestion rates for the first time,” said Dr. Thava Palanisami, one of the lead researchers on the 2019 study. “Developing a method for transforming counts of microplastic particles into masses will help determine the potential toxicological risks for humans moving forward.”