According to a new report published in the Environmental Science & Technology journal, Americans ingest between 74,000 to 121,000 microplastic particles each year. However, researchers estimated that these numbers are likely much higher as some forms of microplastics are harder to track. But how does plastic end up in the air we breathe?
Microplastics can make their way into the air in a variety of ways. These small particles typically start out as larger plastic pieces, however eventually break down and become invisible to the human eye. From there they can float through the air and are easily inhaled. Microplastics can also be consumed by landing on food or being ingested by the animals that we eat.
According to the study, substantial data was collected from seafood, beer, water, air, and added sugars, where microplastics were commonly found. However, beef, poultry, vegetables, and grains were found to be free of plastic particles. The highest concentration of microplastics was found in bottled water, air, and seafood. However, researchers of the study note that only a small number of foods were tested, meaning the concentrations of plastic in other types of food that we consume is still unknown.