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Microplastic—particles of plastic invisible to the unaided eye that remain when  plastic bottles, film, and similar objects decompose—have become part of the human diet, with the typical person ingesting around 100,000 of the bits each year (“Drinking the Bottle Along With the Water,” 10 Jul 2019).
Studies have shown that, once in the body, the granules impair cognition in hermit crabs, disrupt fishes’ hormone balance, damage human lung cells, and cross the blood-brain barrier to lodge in the brains of mice.
New research from the University of California at Riverside has found that microbits of phthalates—a common plastic softener used in everything from shampoos to food packaging—can raise the risk of cholesterol hardening in arteries.
The plastic residue binds to receptors in the gut that would deal with cholesterol. Because the receptors are attaching to plastic bits and not to globs of cholesterol, the fats flow into the bloodstream and lodge in the arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis and a common cause of heart attacks and strokes.
Phthalates are known to disrupt endocrine systems and have been linked to bizarre deformities and biochemical changes in water creatures’ reproductive systems.
In October, scientists at New York University published data showing that as many as 100,000 people in the U.S. die of coronary disease each year as a result of exposure to phthalates and called for urgent regulation to limit, or outright ban, their use.
TRENDPOST: While research develops plastics from less harmful substances than petroleum, humans will continue to confront the dilemma that pits the convenience of plastics against the mounting evidence that they damage ecological systems, wildlife, especially in the oceans, and human health.  
Consumers will continue to switch their purchases and brand allegiance to products that minimize chemicals and practices that damage health and the natural environment.

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