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How Have Microplastics Hampered Our Health? | Affinity Health

Affinity Health is a leading provider of high-quality healthcare. Read on to learn about microplastics as they explore their possible impact on human health.


The world at large loves using plastic! It is a convenience of modern life. But microplastic pollution has emerged as a global health concern in recent years.


Microplastics are plastic particles that are smaller than your thumbnail. – You can find them everywhere, from the deepest oceans to the air we breathe.


Due to their inconspicuous size and mass, it is easy for wind to disperse microplastics in the air. People have seen microplastics in some of the most isolated locales on earth. You could also find them in mountainous and polar regions. Microplastics are also found in the food and water we consume.

What are Microplastics?

Discarded plastic becomes rubbish that litters the surroundings when unrecycled. Over time, plastics breaks down into microplastics. The unfortunate part is that plastic is not biodegradable matter.


Biodegradable matter comprises of substances that can “return to the earth.” This occurs once they have broken down. They contribute to nourishing the environment and do not harm the earth or people.


Microplastics can take anywhere from 20 to over 500 years to fully decompose. This delayed decomposition can increase the amount of microplastics around us. Health researchers are raising alarms about the amount of microplastics on earth.


They estimate that by 2050, the yearly mass of microplastics could be too high. They see the future mass of microplastics exceeding 400 million tonnes. This means that the volume of microplastics is likely to double over the next 25 years.


Is it possible for all plastic manufacturing to stop tomorrow? Even if that were to happen, there are already too many plastics piled in landfills.


At this rate, the environment will continue to degrade into small bits. These bits are hard to collect or clean up. Because of this, these small bits of disintegration are constantly increasing microplastic levels.

What Effects Do Microplastics Have On Human Health?

Human beings can ingest, inhale or absorb microplastics through the skin. This is due to their existence in the air, water, food, and consumer products.


Scientists estimate that we consume more than 100,000 microplastic particles per day. This is roughly equal to the mass of a credit card over the course of a year. Did you know that even synthetic clothing can shed microplastic fibres?


Microplastics act as irritants, much like asbestos fibres. They can enter the body’s cells, tissues, and organs. But top academics state that there must be a published report. The world needs more evidence about the impact of plastic particles on humans.


The only research now available relies on laboratory tests. These tests comprise of cells or human tissues. This would be matter that is in contact with microplastics or living on animal models such as mice or rats.


“One concern about risk is that microplastics may persist in the human body. They may accumulate in certain organs,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.


“At this point, the health impacts microplastics in humans are still under investigation. What we do know is that the chemicals used in the production of plastic are toxic. They are detrimental to the human body.


These toxins can cause any of the following illnesses:
  • Cancers
  • Congenital Disabilities
  • Immune system problems
  • Childhood development issues.”

5 Ways to Reduce Health Risks 

Manufacturers make plastics from refined crude oil. They also use certain compounds such as BPA (Bisphenol-A). These chemicals act primarily as plasticisers. Plasticisers enhance the durability and flexibility of the plastic. When you heat food in a plastic container, toxins from the container might seep into the food.


Research has shown that individuals with elevated BPA levels are in danger. They have an increased risk of developing several major health problems. Health problems may include diabetes, heart disease, and liver poisoning.


To reduce the risk of toxic chemicals like BPA, Affinity Health recommends that you:
  • Never heat or microwave your food in a plastic container.
  • Avoid plastic wrap.
  • Use natural products (like glass or ceramic) for food storage.
  • Only choose plastic products labelled as “BPA-free.” Especially when it comes to baby bottles.
  • Always recycle plastic.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of health insurance. We offer a wide range of cover options at affordable rates. Medical cover includes access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance. We have designed healthcare products to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to always give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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