Micro Plastics: How Worried Should We Be?

We live in an ocean of microplastics – small particles that we wear, ingest, and that blanket our environment. Microplastics are in our water, food, cooking utensils, fabrics, carpet, and the air we breathe. These particles have been found in just about every human being on the planet. So how bad are they? What damage can they do? And what can we do to avoid them, or minimize our exposure? The fact is, we can minimize (but not totally eliminate) our exposure to microplastics – and the associated risks to our health.


Microplastics are particles that are, by definition, less than 5 mm but most are much, much smaller than that and can be inhaled without our knowing. Plastic use, in tens of thousands of products, continues to increase across the globe. The United Nations has estimated that there are more than 51 trillion microplastic particles littering the world’s seas – more particles than stars in our galaxy by a factor of 50! An estimated 8 million metric tons of plastics are dumped into the sea each year, and studies have projected that by 2050 there will be more microplastics in the sea than fish.


Our bodies are capable of excreting microplastics in our urine and feces, but not all of them. Small, inhaled particles likely stay embedded deep in lung tissue. One method of excretion that we can affect is sweating. Researchers at the University of Alberta found concentrations of plastic-related-chemicals to be twice as great in the sweat, as compared to the urine of test subjects. Another reason to work out and work up a good sweat!

The most significant efforts we can make in limiting the concentration of microplastics in our body are in the area of minimizing exposure.


• As most people spent roughly 90% of their time indoors, indoor microplastic exposure can be critical. Australian studies have found that homes with carpet as the main floor covering had nearly double the amount of microplastics. Even wooden floors coated with plastic-based coatings shed microplastics, so marble or tile flooring may be a consideration. This may be especially important to families with toddlers who spend much of their time on the floor.
• Studies have found that microplastics are found in 93% of bottled drinking water, so look for PBA-free plastic bottles. The same goes for children’s sippy cups.
• Plastic food storage containers, especially when heated, bleed microplastics into foods. Try glass storage containers with plastic lids that can be removed before reheating.
• Avoid plastic cooking utensils such as spatulas and spoons. Use wood or stainless steel instead.
• Transfer your “coffee-to-go” into a stainless-steel container as soon as possible. The longer it sits, the more plastic-related chemicals that will likely be leached into your java.


Microplastics are here to stay – and in a big way. While our best efforts in avoidance are absolutely merited, the best defense against metabolic disruption may be the Lean Body lifestyle of working out, maintaining lean body mass, and eating “cleanly”, avoiding the processed, high-glycemic food choices that contribute to obesity. Living lean provides the best defense against disease and aging – and that’s especially true in an environment that seems bent on stealing your health.

About the Author: Dr. Tom Deters

Dr. Tom Deters is the former Editor in chief and publisher of Muscle & Fitness magazine and publisher of both FLEX and Men’s Fitness magazines. He has published hundreds of articles and given hundreds of seminars on training, performance nutrition, diet strategy and bodyfat control.

Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.