The Toxic Truth About Microplastics

By Meghan Rice

In previous blog posts, I have explored some of the most dangerous kinds plastics in the ocean.  One form of plastic that I discovered to be surprisingly harmful was microplastics, tiny pieces of plastic found in cosmetics and as byproducts of processes like laundering clothing.  Basically, these plastics are full of harmful chemicals like DDT that can cause cancer and birth defects in humans.  I have found previously that while the ocean is littered with large pieces of plastic and garbage, the reality is that the sun and the seawater break down this plastic into a giant “plastic soup,” which is more harmful in the end to sea life, and ultimately to humans.  For instance, plankton consume the plastic chemicals and the ecosystem in which they live is adversely affected.

But not only are microplastics affecting marine life; they are also causing a big commotion among environmental agencies and governments worldwide who see them as a threat to human health.  We all know that the food chain beginning in the ocean ends up on our dinner plates.  What are the actual risks involved from microplastic pollution, and what can we do about them?

In an article by Resource in the UK, the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has reportedly pushed for the Department of Health to do a review on the effect of microplastics on human health.  The government, in turn, will consult on a proposed ban on microplastics in cosmetics, and will also conduct further research on the harm of microplastics found in other industrial and household products.  

Defra has released research to the government concluding that marine worms are victims of ingesting microplastics and receiving an insufficient source of nutrition.  When moving along the food chain, crabs in particular release the microplastic chemicals into the environment through their feces.  Once in the animal, chemicals from the microplastics can be released into the gut.  

To close, an alarming quote from the article has be dumbstruck.  I truly hope that in the UK there will be action taken to put a good foot forward in solving this problem, and that here in the USA, we will follow course.  


“The Ellen MacArthur Foundation claimed in January that by 2050 there would be more plastic in the ocean than fish, owing to the leakage of eight million tonnes of plastics into the ocean every year.”


Thank you, and please join Coastal Angels in the fight against plastics and other pollutants harming our marine life.




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