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Scientists have begun to expose a global horror show: plastic particulate pollution. Plastic particles have emerged in some unexpected places, including Arctic ice floes. These particles float in the air, that is to say, people are breathing plastic particles, eating it, drinking water containing plastic.
Little is known about how plastic particles affect the human body. This poses difficulties for the World Health Organization, which recently released a detailed report on the status of plastic particulates in drinking water. It concludes that there is no evidence that drinking plastic particles poses a threat to human health in the light of limited scientific research.
As coordinator of the World Health Organization, Bruce Gordon helped complete the report. We know from the data reviewed that we are ingesting plastic particles. We also know that this has caused consumer concern. The message we want to convey is to assure consumers of drinking water around the world that, according to our risk assessment, it has a low impact on human health, he said.
The report urges the scientific community to further study the potential impact of plastic particles on human health and to accelerate research. It calls on the world to control the plastics pollution disaster, because besides humans, plastic particles have even poisoned remote areas of the planet. They circulate deep in the ocean currents and appear in seafood that people eat. The ubiquity of plastic particles is frightening and humans cant get rid of them.
Deonie Allen, a environmental pollution scientist at Strasklyde University, said that for plastic particles, we dont know much about them.
The amount of plastic produced by humans is staggering --- nearly 400 million tons in 2015, and the figure is expected to double by 2025. It is estimated that 8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean every year, but researchers can trace only 1% of it. The rest seems to have disappeared.
Plastic particles are entering drinking water in a variety of ways. Some of them are carried in the air - they are called urban dust and all particles fly down from things like shoes and tires - and fall into freshwater resources such as reservoirs. Plastic waste also falls into freshwater resources because it becomes fragile when baked in the sun and then decomposes into smaller and smaller pieces over time. Textiles such as yoga pants will shed plastic particulate fibers, which will flow out with laundry water.
The new report points out that freshwater resources are, of course, processed before being supplied to consumers, eliminating most plastic particles. But it also warns that in developing countries, peoples water does not always have access to such purification. In addition, treatment equipment made from plastics themselves may also bring plastic particles to the water supply.
At the early stage of current research, the number of relevant studies is very small, and researchers have not yet identified a consistent research method. Nine studies compiled by the WHO report reflect that the current research is rather fragmentary. Some study bottled water, some study tap water. Some filter water samples into micron-sized particles, while others add particles 100 times larger to the water. Some identified the types of plastics they found, while others did not. As a result, they report pollution levels ranging from 0 to thousands of particles per liter. As a result, these findings are almost impossible to compare.
In addition, plastic particles may have a series of effects on the human intestinal tract. The World Health Organization reports that most plastic particles seem to pass through the intestine harmlessly. However, the scientific community needs to further study how the size of these particles affects their absorption through the intestinal tract, or whether intestinal tissues absorb smaller particles. In addition, plastics also come with something -- chemicals they filter out (known as leachates), and foreign organisms such as bacteria and viruses that may attach to them.
There are many unknowns about plastic particles. The World Health Organization stresses that we have many well-documented problems to worry about with regard to drinking water. We need to focus on known risks. We now know from data from the World Health Organization and the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) that there are two billion people drinking water contaminated by feces, which causes nearly one million deaths each year, Gordon said. This issue must be the focus of regulatory agencies around the world.
Scientists are working to better understand the potential impact of plastic particles on human health, while people around the world will continue to drink, eat and breathe plastic particles.
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Source: Editor in charge of knowledge: Qiao Junjing_NBJ11279