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Sourcing the Menu: Avoiding Microplastics, biosolids and nano particles

NOTE: This is an edited version of portions of Appendices 3 of the “Revised Stealth Syndromes Study Protocol as approved by the University of California San Francisco Medical School Committee on Human Research.


 

The growing evidence of an environmental crisis caused by plastics in both fresh and seawater offers further reasons for concern.

While vast floating islands of plastic afflict parts of the oceans, the larger danger to humans may be due to the vast qualities of wastewater entering rivers, streams, and estuaries.

That wastewater carries significant concentrations of hundreds of dangerous chemicals, pharmaceuticals, illegal drugs, BPA, phthalates, pesticides, household chemicals and more.

These are in addition to microfibers which are already building up on land irrigated with recycled wastewater.

 

Plastic Pollution

Organic fertilizer as a vehicle for the entry of microplastic into the environment

Abstract

The contamination of the environment with microplastic, defined as particles smaller than 5 mm, has emerged as a global challenge because it may pose risks to biota and public health. Current research focuses predominantly on aquatic systems, whereas comparatively little is known regarding the sources, pathways, and possible accumulation of plastic particles in terrestrial ecosystems. We investigated the potential of organic fertilizers from biowaste fermentation and composting as an entry path for microplastic particles into the environment. Particles were classified by size and identified by attenuated total reflection-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. All fertilizer samples from plants converting biowaste contained plastic particles, but amounts differed significantly with substrate pretreatment, plant, and waste (for example, household versus commerce) type. In contrast, digestates from agricultural energy crop digesters tested for comparison contained only isolated particles, if any. Among the most abundant synthetic polymers observed were those used for common consumer products. Our results indicate that depending on pretreatment, organic fertilizers from biowaste fermentation and composting, as applied in agriculture and gardening worldwide, are a neglected source of microplastic in the environment.

Nano-Contamination

The increased use of nanoparticles in clothing, toothpaste, personal care products and other items are finding their way into the municipal wastewater stream. In addition to chemical leaching, some nanoparticles may be small enough to be absorbed directly into the blood streams of fish and other animals.

Whole Foods, in 2014, banned vegetables fertilized with biosolids, but the practice remains controversial: