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You may be ingesting a credit card worth of plastic each week, WWF study says


Each week, the average person consumes around 5 grams of plastic — equivalent to a credit card. (Getty Images/Glowimages)

Ever thought about eating your credit card?

A new study suggests you may be ingesting a credit card’s worth of microplastics each week.

The study, from the World Wildlife Fund and The University of Newcastle in Australia, revealed how plastic ends up in the environment and sometimes, in humans’ bodies.

Each week, the average person consumes around 5 grams of plastic — equivalent to a credit card.

From water alone, a person may consume as much as 1,769 particles of plastic. Including both tap and bottled water, it is the largest source where humans ingest plastic.

In the U.S., 94.4% of tap water samples were found to contain plastic particles — with 4.8 plastic particles per 500 milliliters of water. Lebanon saw 98% of water samples containing plastic, though at slightly less concentrations than the U.S. at 4.5 particles per 500 ml.

Shellfish account for around 182 particles, beer equates to 10 particles and salt accounts for 11 particles ingested each week on average.

“Whilst we certainly don’t recommend you stop drinking water or eating shellfish because of concerns over plastic, it is concerning that studies into the impacts of plastic ingestion by humans are few and far between,” WWF said in a statement.

The study found microplastics that enter the body through the inhalation in the environment may represent a “negligible proportion,” but may differ based on location.

Despite the amount of plastics humans ingest, effects are not known, and WWF called for further research.

“The specific effects of microplastics ingestion on human health are not yet fully understood, but scientists suspect that the health hazard may be more important than is currently understood,” the study said.

Governments are essential in ensuring people are held accountable in ending plastic pollution that is harmful to the environment and people, the study said.

“Systemic solutions using strategic and tactical interventions are required to stop plastic pollution at its source, and bold action from a broad range of stakeholders is needed across the full plastic lifecycle to implement these interventions.”

WWF called for research and science on the effects of plastic and how pollution could be stopped, an international treaty to stop pollution, legislation to hold producers responsible and setting monitoring and compliance measures among other efforts.