You may be eating a credit card's worth of plastic each week

Plastic in water and food is now widespread

People around the world ingest an average of 5 grams of plastic per week, equivalent to a standard credit card, a study found on Wednesday...

Shellfish was another big source.

The campaign was inspired by the analysis "No Plastic in Nature: Assessing Plastic Ingestion from Nature to People", which was based on a study commissioned by WWF and carried out by University of Newcastle, Australia.

The largest source of plastic ingestion is drinking water, according to the research, which reviews 52 existing studies to estimate plastic ingestion around the world.

The researchers, who analyzed more than 50 studies on microplastics, discovered that most of the 2,000 particles ingested every week came from regular drinking water, whether tap or bottled.

"Developing a method for transforming counts of microplastic particles into masses will help determine the potential toxicological risks for humans moving forward", comments Dr Thava Palanisami, project co-lead and microplastics researcher at the University of Newcastle.

"So, even the water that we drink out of the plastic bottles that we may buy out of the store; so that is potentially one source of this plastic pollution that we are ingesting".

The report stated that each person could be consuming over 1,750 fibres of plastic every week. "Not only are plastics polluting our oceans and waterways and killing marine life, it's in all of us and we can't escape consuming plastics", WWF International Director General Marco Lambertini said.

Although microplastics have been detected in the air, the study says inhalation accounts for a negligible intake "but may vary heavily depending on the environment".

Research has shown that plastic pollution is now so extensive, that people could be eating five grams of microplastic per week without knowing it.

However, according to WWF, the impacts of microplastic ingestion on human health are not fully understood. "What will happen if you ingest 5g of plastic a week?"

While the amount of plastic pollution varies by location, nowhere is untouched, and the United States reported the highest levels with 94.4% of tap water samples containing plastic fibres and an average of 9.6 fibres per litre.

"We can not just remove it", said Kavita Prakash-Mani, global conservation director at WWF International.

"If we're going to properly address the throwaway plastic pollution crisis, we need urgent action at government, business and consumer levels to tackle its root causes head on".

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