26 June, 2020
Microplastics are contaminating the fruit and vegetables we eat, according to two separate scientific studies published this week.
According to the first peer-reviewed study by University of Catania scientist Margherita Ferrante, apples are the most contaminated fruit while carrots are the vegetables most affected. Published this week in the journal Environmental Research, the report calls for an urgent review of the effects of microplastics on human health.
A second peer-reviewed study out this week will reveal plastic is being sucked up with water through the root systems of food crops. The study was performed jointly by Dr. Lianzhen Li of the Yanthai Institute of Coastal Zone Research in China and Professor Willie Peijnenburg from Leiden University in the Netherlands and is to be published in the journal Nature Sustainability.
Professor Peijnenburg found microplastics are penetrating the roots of lettuce and wheat plants, after which they are transported to the edible above-ground plant parts. For decades scientists have believed that plastic particles are too large to pass through the physical barriers of intact plant tissue. But this new research casts doubts on this – with root vegetables such as carrots, radishes, turnips, and leafy vegetables like lettuce found to be most at risk of microplastic contamination. Campaigners believe these new findings cast serious doubts over the safety of the food we eat.
Both studies have been shared with the Plastic Health Coalition ahead of a key summit looking into the relationship between plastic and health held in Amsterdam in April 2021. The Summit is being organised by the Plastic Soup Foundation.
Founder of Plastic Soup Foundation Maria Westerbos said:
“For years we have known about plastic in crustaceans and fish, but this is the first time we have known about plastic getting into vegetables.
“If it is getting into vegetables, it is getting into everything that eats vegetables as well which means it is in our meat and dairy as well.
“What we need to find out now is what this is doing to us. This is unchartered territory. Does plastic make us sick?”
Sian Sutherland, co-founder of environmental campaign group A Plastic Planet, said:
“We’ve known for years that plastics are in our air, ocean and soil. And now finally we have the proof plastics are in the fruit and vegetables we feed to our children.
“But a five-a-day diet of toxic microplastics and chemicals is not what the doctor ordered.
“Today I’m calling for an urgent investigation into what these toxins are doing to our health. Now more than ever we must listen to the scientists not the plastic lobbyists”
For More Information Contact: Alex Pegler, Higginson Strategy
Note to Editors
- Held in Amsterdam in April 2021, the Plastic Health Summit brings state-of-the-art research on micro-and nanoplastics, plastic additives, and health. The Plastic Health Summit is being organized by the Amsterdam-based Plastic Soup Foundation and the Plastic Health Coalition which consists of 12 environmental organizations and research institutes.
- The Plastic Soup Foundation is an environmental non-profit against plastic pollution. Its mission is no plastic waste in our water & our bodies.
- A member of the Plastic Health Coalition, A Plastic Planet is a non-profit social impact movement for change. It has one goal – to ignite and inspire the world to turn off the plastic tap.