Microplastics: Every Meal You Eat May Contain More Than 100 Pieces of Plastic, New Study Finds

Every main meal you eat could contain, on average, more than 100 tiny plastic particles—known as microplastics—according to a new study conducted by Scotland-based Heriot-Watt University.

The microplastics likely originate from synthetic fabrics and soft furnishings, which gradually break down before binding to household dust. This dust can then fall onto meals and be consumed, the scientists said.

Overall, they estimate that the average person may ingest anywhere between 13,731 and 68,415 microplastic particles every year, simply through eating. The findings have been published in the journal Environmental Pollution.

Currently, scientists do not know the true impact of consuming microplastics, as research into this issue is seriously lacking. However, there are concerns in some quarters that ingesting these particles may pose a risk to human health.

For their study, the researchers set out to compare the number of plastic fibers found in mussels to that found in the average household meal.

A main meal could contain more than 100 plastic pieces, according to new research. There are concerns that ingesting these particles may pose a risk to human health. Heriot-Watt University

To do this they put Petri dishes containing sticky dust traps next to plates of food in three homes at mealtimes. On average, they found up to 114 plastic fibers on the dust traps at the end of every 20-minute mealtime. In contrast, they found fewer than two plastic fibers, on average, in each mussel.

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

The scale of microplastic pollution in all areas of the environment is becoming increasingly clear. We know that the oceans are heavily polluted with microplastics, and we may even be breathing in plastic particles through the air.

Meanwhile, a recent study found that there could be thousands of tiny plastic particles in bottled water.