For over 50 years, disposable one-use plastics have been in regular commercial use. That means that mountains of plastic garbage has been collecting all over the world. As the plastic breaks down, small particles known as microplastics have been detected in our environment. Microplastics have changed the very chemical structure of the ocean and contributed to the threats against ocean life.
And now there are studies showing that there are microplastics in the soil. That means that the food grown in microplastic soil is in our bodies. Two peer reviewed studies have proved microplastics in our food and call for more research into the relationship between plastic and our health. The first, out of University of Catania, in Italy, and published in Environmental Research, took samples of carrots, lettuce, broccoli, potatoes, apples, and pears, showing for the first time, they say, the presence of these tiny pieces of plastic in fruits and vegetables that we eat.
Another study published in Nature Sustainability from researchers at Yantai Institute of Coastal Zone Research, in China, and Leiden University, in the Netherlands, found that there are cracks in the surface of vegetables that allow microplastics in the soil to seep in.
So pretty much we're all eating a bit of a plastic bottle whenever we dig into a salad.
Willie Peijnenburg, an environmental toxicology professor at Leiden University, says his study found that particles about 40 times that size can get into plants as well. “They are spherical particles with a size up to 2 micrometers and they are a little bit flexible, so they can themselves more or less be squeezed into the small pores’ cells of the plant roots,” he says. “Another mechanism is that inside newly developed roots there are small cracks present, and then the particles [go into] those cracks, so it’s even possible that bigger particles than the ones we studied might also be taken up by plants.”
There haven't been any formal studies on the effects of injecting microplastics into the human body via food consumption, but as Peijnenburg said, “simply, most people don’t like to be eating plastics.” Plus, plastics contain harmful chemicals, so microplastics probably aren't good for her.