Microplastics are small bits of plastic that end up in our waterways worldwide. Plastic debris from discarded industrial plastic products, from old water bottles to shampoo containers, is a major source of global pollution, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says. While plastic pollution is an international concern, microplastics are a different kind of environmental contaminant. Less than five millimeters in length, according to the NOAA, microplastics not only contaminate our oceans and rivers, they might also be a significant contributor to air pollution, The Guardian says. While the study of these tiny plastic particles is still an emerging field, understanding how you can avoid exposure to microplastics, may help protect your health in the long run.
Microplastics are also showing up in snow across the globe, WIRED reports. Scientists say that microplastic particles number as high as 150,000 per liter in Bavarian snow. The more isolated Arctic regions recently showed readings of about 14,000 microplastic particles per liter. Researchers say that global winds might carry the sesame seed-sized plastic particles from region to region, resulting in widespread air, soil, and snow contamination, WIRED says. While scientists are only beginning to understand how widespread microplastic pollution is, and what to do about it, there are steps you can take that may minimize your exposure. Here are six ways to avoid microplastics.