Microplastics in House Dust Rain Down on Our Food

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We each may be ingesting up to 68,415 microplastic particles every year simply from eating at home.

When I was young I used to marvel at the shimmering dust in the air, trying to catch the little fairy motes between my fingers. Now ... cue the record scratch. Once I read the study that found 90 percent of house dust tested had toxic chemicals in it, well the daydreamy appreciation of dust has taken a dark turn.

And now it turns out that not only is our house dust simply toxic, it's loaded with microplastics that drift down on our food, according to another study recently published in the journal Environmental Pollution. It's not enough that we are ingesting itty bits of plastic from our seafood and sea salt and even bottled water?

The study was conducted by researchers from Scotland's Heriot-Watt University, who found that every meal you eat could contain, on average, more than 100 microplastic particles.

Interestingly, the team set out to look at the plastic levels in mussels and wanted to compare those levels to how much might be found in a household meal. They did this by using petri dishes outfitted with sticky dust traps placed next to plates of food at mealtimes. At the end of a 20-minute meal, they checked the traps – on average, they found up to 114 plastic fibers on the dust traps. How did the mussels fare? There were fewer than two plastic fibers in each mussel.

That they found more plastic in the air in our homes than in seafood coming from habitat known to be flooded with microplastics is pretty disconcerting.

"These results may be surprising to some people who may expect the plastic fibers in seafood to be higher than those in household dust,” says Ted Henry, senior author of the study and professor of environmental toxicology at Heriot-Watt University.

All told, the researchers estimate that the average person may consume anywhere between 13,731 and 68,415 microplastic particles each year, simply by eating at home.

The particles most likely come form synthetic fabrics and soft furnishings, which gradually break down before binding to household dust, notes Newsweek. From there, the dust finds its way to our food ... and down the hatch it goes.

While scientists still don't know much about the health impact of ingesting microplastics, there is obviously concern that it's not a good thing. I can't imagine, once more research is done on the matter, that they'll conclude that it is harmless. In the meantime, natural fabrics and non-synthetic soft furnishings are looking pretty good.