Water is the main reason this headline popped back into my mind recently. I’ve been telling friends and family to stop buying water bottle in plastic bottles for years now. Not only for the plastic pollution problem that continues to worsen, not only because the water often comes from municipal sources that may or may not be filtered, but even for selfish reasons. Their health, not to mention cost!

 In hot yoga I am always amazed that people are drinking their water from plastic water bottles. There are always at least 3-4 people in class using them and if they want to improve their health, eliminating the plastic water bottle is an easy start. The concern is that the increased temperature of the bottle will cause more micro-plastics and chemicals to leach out, leading to higher consumption of plastics.

 However, drinking water may not be any better, with the highest amount of plastics found from all water sources, this includes bottled water. In the United States, 94.4% of water samples in the study contained plastic fibers. Filtering your water and using a glass or metal container to drink from would have the biggest reduction in plastic consumption.

 Did you know you consume the equivalent of a credit card in plastic a week? That’s about 5-grams of micro-plastics.

 While this was the headline, I always like to go back to the original source to obtain more information. The study by the University of Newcastle, Australia indicates that through inhalation, food and beverages they arrived at this estimate. While they admit there are many limitations because of the need to extrapolate and make some assumptions about exposure, this study provides a framework for further evaluation.

 So, why does it matter? Don’t get me started on the environmental impact that plastics are having. I won’t go there now, but what I was interested in is seeing what we know about the impact plastics have on our health. It seems there isn’t a lot of information. While there are some studies that show micro-plastics can cause mild inflammation of the lungs and in cells grown in a petri dish there is damage. Basically, there is still a lot to learn.

 One aspect that seems well supported is that some of the plastics contain additives and chemicals that cause endocrine effects. This is the story of BPA and there is an influence on aspects of hormonal regulation along with mutations and cancer. It is just another ‘hit’ to our system, in a world where toxins are increasing and the cumulative effect ultimately will be what takes a toll. We are foolish to believe that the microplastics we are ingesting each week or that the chemicals from the production of the plastics leaching into our environment won’t have some impact. If you don’t think it’s potentially a negative thing to ingest microplastics, maybe next time try shredding a credit card on a salad.