You could be ingesting a credit card worth of plastic a week

Plastic in water and food is now widespread

New research has found that plastic pollution has become so widespread, the average person could be ingesting the equivalent of a credit card every week.

The researchers note that while the long-term effects of ingesting microplastics are not yet fully understood, scientists suspect the health hazard may be greater than now believed.

Carried out by Australia's University of Newcastle the research found that water, both bottled and tap, was the largest single source of plastic ingestion, but large amounts of microplastics were found in the food chain and in the air.

Of the 2000 pieces of microplastic that the researchers calculated the average person consumes, they estimate that around 1769 of those pieces come from water, with 182 in shellfish, 11 in beer and 10 in salt.

The tiny particles of plastic pollution are being taken in through drinking water and various other consumable items.

"Not only are plastics polluting our oceans and waterways and killing marine life - it's in all of us and we can't escape consuming plastics", he said in a statement.

The No Plastic in Nature report from the University of Newcastle, commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund, suggests people around the world are consuming about five grams of microplastics per week, or just over 250 grams annually.

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The second largest source for contributing plastics into a human body system is shellfish, as they are eaten whole, despite plastics being present in their digestive systems.

The researchers note that their study "builds on a limited set of evidence, and comes with limitations" - including a "lack of data available on crucial metrics, such as weight and size distribution of microplastics in natural environments".

Research has shown that plastic pollution is now so extensive, that people could be eating five grams of microplastic per week without knowing it. The long-term consequences of plastic ingestion are not yet fully understood. "What will happen if you ingest 5g of plastic a week?"

"What we do need is political and economic actions to reduce the amounts of plastic being disposed of into the environment and encourage recycling".

Globally, more than 330 million metric tons of plastic is produced each year, and global plastic production is expected to triple by 2050.

The organisation is urging people to join the 665,000 people who have signed its global petition calling for global legally-binding treaty to tackle plastic pollution.

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