Microplastics are contaminating the fruit and vegetables that we eat, according to new research published in the journal Nature Sustainability.
Researchers at the Yanthai Institute in China and Leiden University in the Netherlands, have discovered that microplastics are penetrating the roots of lettuce and wheat plants, and are being transported to the edible above-ground plant parts.
For decades, scientists have believed that plastic particles are too large to pass through the physical barrier of plant tissue. But this new research has shown that plastic particles are being sucked up with water through the root systems of food crops, contaminating vegetables such as carrots, radishes, turnips and lettuces.
The study has 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.
Maria Westerbos, founder of the Plastic Soup Foundation, commented on the study: ‘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 the environmental campaign group A Plastic Planet also commented: ‘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’
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