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Environment

Seafood Eaters Consume 11,000 Micro Bits of Plastic, Study Finds

The vast majority of seafood is, undoubtedly, unsustainable. 

Shrimp is one of the worst foods for slave labor and human trafficking, and overfishing is so vast that the world’s oceans are expected to be stripped of seafood supplies in 30 years.

Salmon farms produce the same amount of nitrogen as sewage from as 3 million people, and traces of mercury, lead, and arsenic found in wild fish arise new concern for human health

Now researchers have found that plastic actually accumulates at tiny levels in human body. Seafood consumers could ingest up to 11,000 micro-sized bits of plastic each year. 

Read More: Adidas Is Making Swimsuits With Recycled Ocean Plastic

Between controversy over great garbage patch, and disturbing images of hermit crabs adapting to make homes in bottle caps, or Albatrosses dissected with stomachs full of faded plastic, it’s surprising only recently did a study shed light into the health impact that consuming plastic-filled proteins could have on humans. 

The study, from scientists at University of Ghent in Belgium, is still pending publishing, however researchers shared some insight into their preliminary findings with Sky News

While researcher don’t have full answers as to how bad it is for you to eat fish that’s swollen with plastic bits, the study’s findings are still disturbing. 

"Now we've established that they do enter our body and can stay there for quite a while, we do need to know the fate of the plastics. Where do they go? Are they encapsulated by tissue and forgotten about by the body, or are they causing inflammation or doing other things? Are chemicals leaching out of these plastics and then causing toxicity? We don't know and actually we do need to know,” said Dr. Carl Janssen, lead researcher of the study. 

Read More: 4,000,000 Pounds of Trash Cleared in World’s Largest Beach Cleanup

The study looks at mussels, which filter around 20 liters of seawater a day, and measured their plastic intake, then related questions to how this could relate to the amount of plastic humans consume. Their estimates are even more concerning than the fact people today are guzzling 11,000 bits of plastic. 

By the end the century, as plastic levels increase and build up further in the ocean and simultaneously seafood, humans will imbibe as astounding 780,000 micro pieces of plastic. And the fraction of that immense amount of plastic remaining in the human body will be around 4,000 tiny but potent pieces. 

"The next generation or two generations might say they left us a rotten plastic legacy because now we are suffering in various ways from that legacy. We have to do something about it. We have to act now," said Janssen. 

By 2025, scientists estimate that the amount of plastic entering the oceans (not even already in oceans) will be equivalent to if 10 plastic grocery bags full of plastic were placed on every foot of coastline in the world, or 16 billion tons. 

Measures banning microbeads and countries banning plastic are big steps forward for a healthier future for all. And may we suggest all companies start shipping with these mushroom boxes? Because every little bit saved, is a little bit left out of the ocean and the food chain supply.