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Meet The (micro) Plastics

By Maliyah Womack


Who are "The Plastics"? Only a few of the most detrimental pollutants to ever enter the environment. That’s right, we’re talking about Microplastic pollutants. Don’t be fooled, while they may seem like your typical selfish, backstabbing, h*e bag, in reality they are so much more than that. 


Microplastics are basically "The Plastics" of environmental pollutants. Just as it sounds, microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that can be found basically everywhere and in everything. Microplastics are running around being messy just like how the Burn Book caused chaos but on a much larger, global scale. According to the National Library of Medicine, “plastic pollution in various forms has emerged as the most severe environmental threat.” That’s because they’re in literally everything. These plastics can be found in our oceans, soil, water, air, and even our food. 


Now there are different types of microplastics, just like "The Plastics", they have their own unique method of wreaking havoc on our environment. Primary microplastics are tiny particles that stem from everyday products like makeup, clothing, and more (yes sis, I said our makeup). Then, there are Secondary microplastics which go directly into our waters, soil, and air as a result of plastic items like water bottles, containers, plastic cups, and more. Anyway you look at it, these plastics have to go. 

(Photo Creds: National Library of Medicine)


Microplastics aren’t just causing high school drama; they’re legit harmful. The issue with microplastics is the same issue we face with standard plastic material; this material does not easily decompose or break down in a natural environment nor in our bodies. This evil takes human form by immersing itself into various items we use and consume everyday from our toothpaste, to our body exfoliators, to our meats, water, and even extending to our lungs and blood. But let’s really break down exactly how these microplastics affect us. 


First, microplastics can lead to various respiratory issues. The National Library of Medicine states these microplastics cause “oxidative stress in the airways and lungs when inhaled” which can cause “symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and shortness of breath due to inflammation and damage” to your lungs. Think about all the times you randomly sneeze at home or on a walk. We normally chalk it up to dust or allergies and while these factors are true, they run much deeper than that. 


In addition to causing respiratory issues, exposure to microplastics can often lead to “fatigue and dizziness due to a low blood oxygen concentration” as noted by the National Library of Medicine. I know I’ve come across a time or two where I was fully hydrated, well fed and still felt a moment where I was getting randomly dizzy and needing to sit down. Along with that, microplastics can lead to disruptions in our endocrine system, which can cause metabolic disorders, developmental disorders, and even reproductive disorders. The facts are scary and one thing for certain, these microplastics need to have their ego reduced, immediately. 

(Photo Creds.: Giphy.com)

Perhaps microplastics being hit by a bus in the middle of the street won’t stop them but there are some ways we can help to decrease our contribution to these plastics and improve our health given our everyday exposure to these hazards. Check out these ways to reduce your microplastic pollution and consumption here.


As we try to navigate this plastic-filled world, let’s remember: microplastics are the ultimate mean girls. They might be tiny, but their impact is huge. 

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