can you eat plastic

In this brief article we will answer the question “can you eat plastic”. We will also discuss what plastic is, what microplastic is, what happens when you eat plastic, and more

Can you eat plastic?

No, you cannot eat plastic. However, you may be eating tiny particles of plastic every day without knowing it. Normal plastics cannot be digested by the human digestive system.

What happens when you eat Plastic?

Your body cannot digest plastic since stomach acid in humans does not have that ability.

 If you ingest some plastic by mistake, most probably it won’t affect you much. Chances are it is going to leave your body in a day or two. For example, very often we see cases of young children swallowing toys, buttons, safety pins, and a bunch of other things that are not digestible. Almost all of these items are passed with stool between 24 to 48 hours.

However, there is an interesting fact that has been found recently. Researchers have found that some bacteria found in cow’s stomachs can break down plastics. However, for humans, this is most certainly not the same.

What is Plastic?

Plastics are polymer materials that can be molded or shaped by applying heat,  pressure, or both. There are various types of plastics in the world that are used for many different purposes. 

There are plastics with many important properties that have made them ideal to be used for specific applications. Low density, low electrical conductivity, transparency, and toughness, along with plasticity are some of the common properties that have many applications in the world.

Some commonly known plastics are polyethylene terephthalate and polyvinyl chloride which are known well as PET and PVC. polystyrene and polymethyl methacrylate are also well known by their trade names which are Styrofoam and Perspex. These plastics are also known as commodity resins since they are mass-produced at low costs to be used to make common disposable items and durable goods as well. 

There is also a type of plastic called engineering resins nylon, Teflon, polycarbonate, and epoxy. Thermoplastic elastomers are a type of plastic that have elastic properties but also can be molded again and again when heated. 

What is Microplastic?

Microplastics are not a type of plastic but any type of plastic that is less than 5 mm in length. Microplastics are present all around us due to plastic pollution. Microplastics can be divided into two categories; primary and secondary. Primary microplastics are microplastics that enter the environment directly. 

When a personal care product is washed into the wastewater system the microplastics that it adds to the wastewater are primary microplastics. Entering the environment during transportation, production, or cleaning, there are a lot of instances where primary microplastics are added to the environment by human action.

Secondary microplastics are added into the environment by breaking off from larger plastics by weathering or other environmental causes such as wear due to wave action, wind, or ultraviolet radiation that comes from sunlight.

What happens when you eat Microplastics?

Microplastics are almost everywhere and you certainly would not be able to avoid eating some of them without realizing it. This is increasingly causing more and more health issues in our bodies. Studies suggest that around 40 percent of the human diet contains microplastics. 

It has been estimated that on average you might be eating more than 74,000 particles of microplastic every year. When you convert it into daily consumption, that would be over 200 particles every day. You will be surprised to know that microplastics have been found in even the most remote places like Antarctica and Mount Everest.

Microplastics can expose you to unwanted chemicals that can cause asthma, cancer, miscarriage, infertility, and hormone imbalances. Some studies suggest microplastics can affect the production of energy in the human body. 

Another serious issue with microplastics is that, if the particles are small enough they can pass through tissue and end up in bloodstreams and in different organs in the human body. What happens after that is not exactly studied properly.

Another risk that comes with microplastics is that they can absorb other dangerous substances such as pesticides, drugs, and even heavy metals. These substances can cause multiple issues in the human body.

How can you reduce microplastics entering your body?

There are different things you can do to reduce the number of microplastics that enter your body.

  • Avoid microwaving food in plastic containers
  • Drink filtered tap water instead of bottled water
  • Avoid using takeaway cups and use your own reusable cup
  • Avoid using plastic with recycling codes 3, 6, and 7 since they are more harmful.
  • Try to avoid clothes made of synthetic fiber
  • Use plastic-free cosmetics and beauty products
  • Limit eating seafood
  • Use loose tea leaves instead of tea bags
  • Vacuum regularly
  • Limit the use of single-use plastics

Conclusion

In this brief article we have answered the question “can you eat plastic”. We have also discussed what plastic is, what microplastic is, what happens when you eat plastic, and more

Citations

https://www.britannica.com/technology/microplastic

What was missing from this post which could have made it better?

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.