Human exposure to marine microplastics is primarily via ingestion of contaminated fish and shellfish or via inhalation and ingestion of microplastics from household dust. Exposure to microplastics in foodstuffs goes beyond seafood (Bouwmeester et al. 2015; Lusher et al. 2017a; Cox et al. 2019; International Pollutants Elimination Network 2019; Alexy et al. 2020; Conti et al. 2020) including honey, sugar (Liebezeit and Liebezeit 2013) and table salt (Yang et al. 2015; Karami et al. 2017; Lee et al. 2019). People can also be exposed to microplastic particles in drinking water (Schymanski et al. 2018; Koelmans et al. 2019) and in foods such as bread, processed meat, dairy products (Kutralam-Muniasamy et al. 2020) and vegetables. Much of the microplastics in foods may originate from plastic packaging materials, including plastic bottles.
Microplastics, particularly microfibres, are present in air (Dris et al. 2015a; Dris et al. 2016), especially indoors (Alzona et al. 1979). They are respirable and small enough to penetrate deeply into the human lung, where plastic microfibres up to 250 μm in length have been detected (Pauly et al. 1998; Landrigan et al. 2020; Vethaak and Legler 2021).
From collection: From Pollution to Solution: A Global Assessment of Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution