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Microplastics finding way into our diets

SAN ANTONIO – From water bottles to dish soap to coffee pods, plastic is a part of our lives. It's also become part of our diet.

"As we use all of this plastic, little, tiny fragments break off of the water bottles or plastic bags or wrappings," said Consumer Reports health editor Kevin Loria. "And they end up in the food we eat, the water we drink and even the air that we breathe."

The fragments are called microplastics, which can be as large as 5 millimeters, but can also be microscopic.

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According to early results from a forthcoming study from the University of New Castle in Australia, researchers estimate the average person consumes up to 5 grams of plastic a week, which is roughly the size of a credit card.
 
The Plastics Industry Association said in a statement to Consumer Reports that research has not shown "significant human health impacts" from microplastics, but this is something that requires further study.  

But the experts that Consumer Reports has spoken with said that it's very likely there are going to be at least some health effects.

"It's possible, for example, that ingesting micro plastics might increase our exposure to some other chemicals that we know are in some plastics. Chemicals that we know have harmful health effects," Loria said. 

Some of these chemicals have been linked to a variety of potential health problems, including reduced fertility, obesity, organ damage, developmental delays in children and even cancer. 

To avoid consuming plastic, experts said start by drinking tap water. Microplastic levels in bottled water can be twice as high as in tap water. 

It's also recommended people avoid heating food in plastics when using the microwave. Eating more fresh food may expose you to fewer concerning chemicals than wrapped, packaged and processed food. 

Vacuuming regularly can also help you avoid breathing household dust, which can contain microplastics.

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