Plastic Is Everywhere Now, Including Your Brain
Discarded plastics make up 18.5% of landfills and 90% of all trash entering the world’s oceans. Estimates suggest that by 2050, our oceans will contain more plastic than fish by weight. In some ocean waters, plastic already exceeded plankton by a factor of 6-to-1 in 2006
Recent animal research found plastic particles in mice’s brains just two hours after the animals ingested drinking water containing microplastics
Scientists suspect microplastic contamination in our brains may cause cognitive impairment, neurotoxicity and altered neurotransmitter levels, which can contribute to behavioral changes
Similarly, a Chinese study published in January 2022 concluded that inhaled plastic was associated with “obvious neurotoxicity”
The plastics industry sold consumers on the idea that plastic was recyclable and therefore sustainable even though they knew it was financially unfeasible. Consumers were also deceived by the addition of recycling codes on plastic products. The code makes it seem as though all plastic is recyclable, which isn’t true
We live in a throwaway society, and products intended for short-term consumption are packaged in materials that will survive for centuries. Discarded plastics make up 18.5% of landfills1 and 90% of all trash entering the world’s oceans.2
At the rate we’re going, estimates suggest that by 2050, our oceans will contain more plastic than fish by weight.3 In some ocean waters, plastic already exceeded plankton by a factor of 6-to-1 in 2006.4
The problem with plastic is that it doesn’t biodegrade; it photodegrades, which takes hundreds of years. Researchers estimate a single plastic coffee pod may take up to 500 years, the duration of the Roman Empire.5 Even as it breaks down, it doesn’t completely vanish. Instead, it turns into tiny plastic particles, commonly referred to as “nurdles,” which act like sponges for toxic chemicals.6
These particles are routinely consumed by filter feeders in the ocean, slowly poisoning them and causing blockages. As these filter feeders are consumed by larger creatures, the toxins move up the food chain, ultimately ending up in our own bodies. Plastic chemicals also enter our bodies through other routes, including drinking water.
Plastic in Water Can Enter Your Brain
As reported by The Guardian May 1, 2023:7
“Researchers at the University of Vienna have discovered8,9 particles of plastic in mice’s brains just two hours after the mice ingested drinking water containing plastic. Once in the brain, ‘Plastic particles could increase the risk of inflammation, neurological disorders or even neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s,’ Lukas Kenner, one of the researchers, said in a statement ... [The] researchers also believe that microplastic contamination in our brains can cause short-term health effects such as cognitive impairment, neurotoxicity and altered neurotransmitter levels, which can contribute to behavioral changes. The team gave mice water laced with particles of polystyrene — a type of plastic that’s common in food packaging such as yogurt cups and Styrofoam takeout containers.
Using computer models to track the dispersion of the plastics, researchers found that nanoplastic particles — which are under 0.001 millimeters and invisible to the naked eye — were able to travel into the mice’s brains via a previously unknown biological ‘transport mechanism.’
Essentially, these tiny plastics are absorbed into cholesterol molecules on the brain membrane surface. Thus stowed away in their little lipid packages, they cross the blood-brain-barrier — a wall of blood vessels and tissue that functions to protect the brain from toxins and other harmful substances.”
You Breathe and Eat Plastic Too
Other studies have demonstrated that inhaled plastic can enter your brain as well. For example, a Chinese study10 published in January 2022 concluded that inhaled plastic was associated with “obvious neurotoxicity.”
More specifically, the plastic nanoparticles reduced function of brain enzymes known to malfunction in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s patients. As such, inhaled plastic may contribute to or exacerbate these conditions.
Your health, including the function of your brain, is also largely dependent on your gut health and the function of your mitochondria, and plastic wreaks havoc there as well.
A January 2023 study11 from Finland found that high doses of microsized polyethylene decreased cell viability and increased production of harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the mitochondria, which is where most of your body’s energy is produced.
How Microplastics Get Into Meat and Milk
In 2022, Dutch scientists confirmed the presence of microplastics in meat, milk and the blood of both farm animals and humans.12,13 In all, nearly 80% of meat and dairy products tested were found to contain microplastics, including 5 in 8 pork samples and 18 in 25 milk samples. As reported by the Plastic Soup Foundation, which commissioned the testing:14
“The possible cause could be the feed of cows and pigs: all 12 samples of feed pellets and shredded feed were found to contain plastic ... Maria Westerbos, director of Plastic Soup Foundation, said, ‘This study raises serious concerns about the contamination of our food chain with microplastics.
It is also clear that farmers are not responsible for this. It seems that at least part of the former food products, including from supermarkets, are processed into livestock feed with packaging and all ...
The European Animal Nutrition Regulation 767/2009 prohibits the addition of ‘packaging and parts of packaging derived from the use of food industry products.’ This regulation should be enforced, according to Plastic Soup Foundation.
However, the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) uses a so-called Reference Point of Action; contamination below 0.15% is tolerated.”
The very idea that food scraps used to make animal feed would be processed with plastic food packaging left on is shocking beyond belief. Who in their right mind would think of doing such a thing? Yet apparently, that is happening, and is common enough that the EU has regulations for it.
Microplastics Found Everywhere
In the study above, 100% of swine and cows had microplastics in their blood.15 In humans, plastic particles have been found in the blood of 77% of people tested.16 The mean concentration of plastic particles in the blood was 1.6 µg/ml.17
Some of the blood samples contained up to three different types of plastic; steel syringe needles and glass tubes were used so no plastic would be introduced to the samples.18 Of the 17 samples in which plastic particles were detected:19
* Half contained polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic, which is used to make plastic water and soda bottles
* One-third contained polystyrene, widely used in food packaging
* One-quarter contained polyethylene, which is used to make plastic bags
Previous studies have also detected microsized plastic particles in human feces and placental tissue,20 so we know the plastic is migrating throughout the human body. Disturbingly, infants have up to 10 times more plastic in their feces than adults.
Effects of exposure to microplastics in utero include reduced fetal and placental weight, coronary dysfunction, vascular perturbations, negative reproductive health outcomes and neurological dysfunction.