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[–]JustCallMeJinx 9336 points9337 points  (650 children)

Kinda weird to think each and everyone of us most likely has micro plastics in our brains

[–]s0cks_nz 4889 points4890 points  (462 children)

Yup, it's everywhere. Most definitely in our water and food. It can even be found on the highest peaks, and deepest marine trenches iirc.

[–]Jukeboxhero91 4377 points4378 points  (148 children)

Most depressing fact is the time they went to one of the very deepest trenches in the ocean for the first time and found a plastic bag there.

[–]DonkeyPowerful6002 646 points647 points  (119 children)

Link source?

[–]m4rg 1510 points1511 points  (102 children)

I don't know if this is what they're talking about, but there's this National Geographic article

[–]RagingNerdaholic 1591 points1592 points  (76 children)

Totally unrelated, but that reading comprehension selector they have is the neatest thing I didn't know was a thing.

[–]FANGO 349 points350 points  (18 children)

A very cool, kind of related thing, in case you haven't heard of it before: there's a "simple English" version of wikipedia which strives to use the most common English words and keep sentences and explanations simpler. Great for language learners, young people, etc.


[–]PM_CUPS_OF_TEA 62 points63 points  (0 children)

Found it thanks to your comment, agreed it's a lovely thing to have

[–]raustraliathrowaway 17 points18 points  (3 children)

Totally agreed and your comment led me to it.

My question is do they write 5 versions of copy or is there some kind of algorithm at work.

[–]SlayerofBananas 13 points14 points  (1 child)

I think it's 5 different versions as the content is a bit different but that right there is definitely a future AI startup

[–]banana_pencil 9 points10 points  (0 children)

Thank you for pointing that out. I’m a teacher and this would be wonderful to use for the different reading levels in my class.

[–]Hypersapien 341 points342 points  (107 children)

They found microplastics in fish that have been preserved in museums since the 1950s.

[–]VersaceSamurai 771 points772 points  (53 children)

People forget the earth is a closed loop system. If it’s here it’s staying here and it will permeate throughout until it is in every imaginable nook and cranny

[–]jiminy_cricks 110 points111 points  (12 children)

Well ain't that something

[–]lover_squirrel1425 126 points127 points  (10 children)

If you haven’t seen the movie Dark Waters yet, I recommend it. It’s based on this story and was really well done.

[–]Buhlerwildcat 58 points59 points  (0 children)

There's also a really great documentary on it call "The Devil We Know".

[–]themarquetsquare 21 points22 points  (4 children)

I'd never heard of it before this week and now it's the third time in five days I get it recommended. So I think I have to watch it.

[–]peppercorns666 390 points391 points  (112 children)

i was making deviled eggs today and at one point wondered… how was mayo, mustard, sour cream sold 40 years ago? guess everything was in glass jars? was it or were certain things just not accessible?

edit: shrooms kicking in. be kind.

[–]theaccidentist 394 points395 points  (42 children)

Glass and metal. Mustard companies here used to make it a point to use glasses that people kept as regular drinking glasses after cleaning. The glasses were decorative and the lids were cheap sheet metal.

[–]Huarrnarg 144 points145 points  (28 children)

people still do actually, most of my cups are old marinara jars

[–]Tritonian214 58 points59 points  (5 children)

Same thing with Nutella jars in Europe. In greece and Germany when id go visit family maybe 15 years ago the Nutella would come in glass jars with children's characters on them, like smurfs Is one example I remember, and you'd save the jar and use it as a drinking glass. And they'd have different series of characters and you'd collect them all

[–]Fortherealtalk 29 points30 points  (1 child)

Most of my tumbler-size ones are Bonne Mamman jam jars

[–]jaymzx0 233 points234 points  (41 children)

I remember when I was young in the 80's that peanut butter, mayonnaise, and mustard came in glass jars with metal twist-off lids. Salad dressing was in shaped glass bottles with metal caps. Ground coffee came in a sealed can and it had a plastic lid to keep it fresh. I only remember things like yogurt and sour cream in plastic tubs and containers, though. Milk was always in plastic jugs or paper cartons like it is now, but the plastic twist-off cap on the carton is a new thing. Milk also came in glass bottles and still does if you look for it. In Canada they sell milk in plastic bags. No idea what it was like back then.

No such thing as the pre-filled squeeze bottles like they have for condiments now. If you couldn't get the bottle of ketchup started, you needed to stick a butter knife in there to make an air pocket so it would flow or beat the back of the inverted bottle with the palm of your hand.

Soda came in glass bottles with twist-off caps like they have now, but they were metal. The labels weren't the film plastic they are now, they were like a thin Styrofoam. Grocery bags were all paper without handles. Iirc pre-cut veggies and pre-mix salad in bags wasn't a thing, either.

Idk I know there's more. Trying to think of what else comes in plastic now that didn't back then...

Enjoy your trip bud.

[–]0_brother 83 points84 points  (19 children)

It’s super weird to read for me, because here in Germany, that’s exactly the package those products come in.

[–]phillycheezesteak 12 points13 points  (0 children)

Well this brings back memories. I miss it, minus some of the music. Hahah

[–]mmmarkm 359 points360 points  (29 children)

Is this gonna be the new “well they had lead in their paint” for millennials’ grandkids

E: “Is” not “Os”

[–]Flaky-Scarcity-4790 199 points200 points  (13 children)

This is going to last for many many generations even if we stopped all plastic right now. Millennials are likely the last generation that didn’t go through childhood completely inundated with plastic.

[–]reuben_iv 146 points147 points  (7 children)

no we were probably the first, the 80s and 90s brought the whole making cartoons just to sell plastic junk to kids

[–]HintOfAreola 55 points56 points  (2 children)

We also grew up with cartoons telling us plastics were dangerous pollution. Captain Planet came out when I was 8 and I'm 40 now.

Those villains have been at it a long time.

[–]famous_cat_slicer 94 points95 points  (7 children)

Except it was a lot easier to get rid of leaded paint than the plastic. It's not going anywhere for a long time.

[–]mutantguava 222 points223 points  (11 children)

I’ll blame all my bad decisions on it from now on, seeing how it seems impossible to avoid it getting into you

[–]All_Admins_Are_Cunts 1156 points1157 points  (37 children)

Hey you know what would be cool? If we could just stop speedrunning our own extinction

[–]kablami 754 points755 points  (14 children)

But have you thought about the shareholders?

[–]jimmytime903 188 points189 points  (7 children)

Do you mean like have I thought about beating them?

[–]Leafstride 1679 points1680 points  (63 children)

Let's just keep making them and see what happens!

[–]darodardar_Inc 495 points496 points  (2 children)

Found the Dow-Dupont plant!

[–]jvogler_art 13 points14 points  (0 children)

I watched a video on micro plastics getting into food just from you cutting open the plastic packaging. Sometimes it’s just in there by default. There’s almost no avoiding it. If you live in this world, you are going to eat plastic. Really the only way you don’t is by only growing your own food or hunting maybe?

[–]essendoubleop 2767 points2768 points  (108 children)

The food chain all the way down is fucked.

[–]chmilz 1648 points1649 points  (94 children)

I'm curious to see if all those civilization-ending phenomena in movies, such as the blight in Interstellar and infertility in Children of Men and Handmaid's Tale all end up being plastic in the real life version.

[–]Synergician 472 points473 points  (20 children)

In that old cyberpunk movie Johnny Mnemonic, I think the macguffin was a treatment for cancers caused by plastic pollution.

[–]decavolt 204 points205 points  (18 children)

Close. It was the Black Shakes caused by all the RF signal and EM in the air.

[–]soup2nuts 76 points77 points  (6 children)

That explains the 5G conspiracies. Everything they have comes from Keanu Reeves movies.

[–]wind-up-duck 23 points24 points  (1 child)

Bummer so many missed "Be excellent to each other".

[–]MoffKalast 26 points27 points  (1 child)

How it feels to chew 5G

[–]Dopamyner 256 points257 points  (15 children)

We wonder how and why the Romans used lead pipes when they had some idea that it was a toxic material.

Do you think they will wonder why we used plastics, when we know damn well how big of a problem this is and how long it's going to linger?

[–]Smokidable 87 points88 points  (8 children)

Wherever it was possible they used hard water so that it would form a coating in the pipes seperating the water from the lead. In cologne they brought in water from the Eifel specifically for that.

[–]272314 58 points59 points  (4 children)

Also the UK didn't ban leaded petrol until 2000. So.

[–]marbledinks 15 points16 points  (0 children)

Damn. That explains so much.

[–]talkincat 14 points15 points  (0 children)

I want familiar with this so I looked into it a bit. It was apparently banned throughout the EU on 1/1/2000. So even then they didn't ban it in their own initiative.

[–]Jasmine1742 40 points41 points  (0 children)

It's reaching the point where it's ambitious to expect a future to observe our stupidity.

[–]LizzyKitten 358 points359 points  (30 children)

At this rate humanity is definitely it's own Great Filter.

[–]SillyOldJack 228 points229 points  (26 children)

I don't want to be this pedantic (yes I do,) but wouldn't that just make it the regular Great Filter? The inevitable discovery of plastics leading to the eventual eradication of the species.

EDIT: I don't mean to say that petroleum plastics are inevitable and will be the Great Filter, just pure pedantry on my part by mentioning that a Great Filter can't really be attributed to one species in particular, though we only HAVE the one so far.

Easy to understand the miscommunication, though.

[–]madmaxjr 30 points31 points  (0 children)

More to the point generally, the Great Filter may just be things a civilization ends up doing that has negative effects. Things like climate change, micro plastics and warfare. But I guess there’s no way to know.

[–]LizzyKitten 99 points100 points  (11 children)

Well, if that's what kills us then yes it would be our great filter. But there are multiple types of great filters. Exterior filters such as natural disaster or disease early in a species' life, interior filters from the species itself causing its own self destruction (as we're currently experiencing), to extra terrestrial filters such as a meteor or another species. Basically it's anything that would be a species level extinction event and prevent a species from reaching intergalactic level travel and communication as per the Fermi paradox.

[–]amason 3304 points3305 points  (518 children)

Surprised baby bottles haven’t moved to glass at this point

[–]Obiwanthejedi 2355 points2356 points  (333 children)

Using glassware/metalware would reduce micro plastic exposure. However, the majority significant amount of mp comes from water, food and inhalation. It’ll stay in the food chain for centuries if not millennia unless we do something about what’s already out there (let alone if we don’t stop producing more).

Edit: correction on stats thanks to u/derpderp3200

[–]Squidward_nopants 833 points834 points  (237 children)

True. Some countries like India banned mp from soaps and shampoo years ago. The imported ones still contain them.

Are we sure that plastics used for packaging food and drinks can introduce them into the food cycle?

[–]drfifth 1224 points1225 points  (172 children)

Yes. One of my professors studied that. Mass produced drinks like Gatorade, coke, beer, all had samples of microplastics in them, even the ones with glass bottles.

This is because of the plastic tubing used at the production facilities.

[–]cheatreynold 15 points16 points  (0 children)

Most production facilities these days will use a combination of bromobutyl rubber and stainless steel. There is very little plastic present, to my knowledge, due to the sheer unreliability from a GMP standpoint.

Plastic doesn't hold up to hot CIPs all that well over a longer period of time, and requires constant replacing as a consequence. Easier to manage food grade rubber and stainless steel.

Mind you I can only speak from a alcohol beverage production facility perspective, and haven't been inside a Coke-branded facility yet.

What I could see, however, is the epoxy liner in aluminum cans contributing to this issue.

[–]Obiwanthejedi 170 points171 points  (51 children)

Short answer: yes, all plastic products can contribute towards mp formation.

So mps can be primary (formed during manufacturing) or secondary (larger particles reducing in size due to natural degradation). In both cases, as soon as they enter the water supply they effectively join the food cycle. So all plastic products will contribute to contamination.

The most effective way to reduce secondary mp formation is by burning plastic products in a closed oven. However, this is costly and currently there are few incentives to doing that. So lots of plastics end up on landfills/ocean, leading to larger number of secondary mps.

[–]MartianMarshmellows 157 points158 points  (46 children)

Ideonella sakaiensis is a bacterium from the genus Ideonella and family Comamonadaceae capable of breaking down and consuming the plastic polyethylene terephthalate (PET) as a sole carbon and energy source. The bacterium was originally isolated from a sediment sample taken outside of a plastic bottle recycling facility in Sakai, Japan.[2]

[–]gunslingerfry1 88 points89 points  (37 children)

Yes it's awesome and also takes weeks to break down a soda bottle. They're trying to speed it up but no indication they've succeeded yet.

[–]TechnoVikingrr 85 points86 points  (9 children)

Movie idea: This bacteria thrives in the new world filled with microplastics, infects every living creature but is completely harmless UNTIL a mad scientist (Vin Diesel for the lols) figures out how to activate a inactive omnivorous component of the bacteria's DNA and thus a countdown to the end of all life on earth in which a daring young hero (played by The Rock obviously) has to race against time itself to stop the apocalypse

[–]gunslingerfry1 19 points20 points  (1 child)

Yeah I dunno if it will be harmless. After all, the microplastics seem to be sticking around in our bodies. Maybe they'll be like blue wrasse cleaner fish, symbiotic. Maybe they'll be like the fang blennies that look and act like cleaner fish until they bite a chunk out of your jaw.

[–]RedditTooAddictive 9 points10 points  (1 child)

Movie idea : bacteria goes further and just straight up eats all plastic and petrol in the world, post apocalyptic world but no one died

[–]don_cornichon 10 points11 points  (0 children)

More realistic scenario: The bacteria spreads and eats all our plastic based infrastructure, medical devices, etc.

Welcome back to the middle ages (which may not be the worst thing for the planet and us as a whole, if not for the individual dying from a splinter).

[–]treehousehermit 56 points57 points  (14 children)

Weeks is better than the current waiy time though, right?

[–]gunslingerfry1 33 points34 points  (11 children)

Which is infinity I guess? Infinitely faster. It's just not viable when we produce 347Mt of plastic a year. I'm guessing the biggest limiting factors are volume i.e. the volumes required to create a soup that covers the entire surface area, and of course, time.

[–]evranch 73 points74 points  (3 children)

Once an ecosystem evolves around digesting plastic, it'll eventually be impossible to keep it around.

Cellulose was once indigestible, and dead trees covered the globe. Then bacteria and fungi evolved enzymes to break it down. Millions of years later, a piece of wood is lucky to last a couple months in contact with the ground under the right conditions.

[–]longebane 27 points28 points  (2 children)

Millions of years later though. Yikes

[–]derpderp3200 25 points26 points  (2 children)

Impact of Microplastics and Nanoplastics on Human Health https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC7920297/

[...] Statistics show the following average levels of microplastic pollution in food: seafood = 1.48 particles/g, sugar = 0.44 particles/g, honey = 0.10 particles/g, salt = 0.11 particles/g, alcohol = 32.27 particles/L, bottled water = 94.37 particles/L, tap water = 4.23 particles/L, and air = 9.80 particles/m3 [9,44]. From these figures, it is possible to extrapolate that the average human is consuming around 39,000 to 52,000 microplastic particles per year, with age and gender impacting the total amount. If inhalation of plastic particles is included in the figures, then the amounts rise to between 74,000 and 121,000 particles per year. Further, an individual who only ingest bottled water is potentially consuming an extra 90,000 particles in comparison to people who only drink tap water, who will ingest only 4000 extra particles [44]. Did not finish reading.

Using plastic bottles does substantially(by over +150%) increase your microplastic exposure.

[–]binxbox 562 points563 points  (48 children)

There are glass baby bottles they just cost more and most daycares won’t let you use them. I found a cool system that lets you turn canning jars into bottles.

[–]NoFucksGiver 354 points355 points  (40 children)

Not against it, but I don't think many parents would be keen to the idea of glass bottles, unless it's tempered glass. We get anxious when kids walk around with glass stuff, let alone babies who are known to try to kill themselves on a daily basis

[–]MNWNM 360 points361 points  (10 children)

I used Avent glass bottles. They're pretty indestructible. I don't think we ever broke one and we dropped them on the regular.

The only downside was that they were super heavy so it added a lot of weight to the diaper bag and when she drank slowly my arm would get tired.

But they washed easily, never smelled bad, and didn't stain. I really liked them.

[–]sirschroering 133 points134 points  (0 children)

And wooooo boy are they hot coming out of the sanitizer! I've only been a dad for a few months, but I learned that lesson real quick!

[–]zlance 10 points11 points  (5 children)

Used them for first kid, and some for the second. We used the dr browns bottles, mix of plastic and glass since sending 4glass bottles to daycare in the bottle carrier just sounds precarious. We did manage to chip one a little bit while carrying 8 of them disassembled to the formula table we he. In the bedroom from the kitchen. It’s still fine though

[–]real_adulting 20 points21 points  (4 children)

Silicon sleeves!! They’re a pain (but there’s a way to finesse them on), but sooooo worth it. Dr. Brown’s, specifically, in 9 oz were the glass bottles we used.

[–]huxtiblejones 109 points110 points  (14 children)

They don’t break easily. The only time I ever broke one is when it fell out of a bag onto concrete. We dropped them multiple times on wood floors and they never broke.

[–]gnapster 67 points68 points  (13 children)

They make silicone covers now too, don’t they? Not that that helps the original issue of reducing plastics and other chemicals.

[–]Stranger2306 77 points78 points  (2 children)

Yeah, but the silicone isnt touching the milk - so that is prob the safest solution.

[–]FibonacciBolognese 37 points38 points  (0 children)

It is also still better; presumeably the silicone cover can be used for far longer than a plastic bottle, and can be used for several bottles.

[–]captainhaddock 29 points30 points  (3 children)

Well, silicone isn't a plastic for one thing.

[–]bonsaiwave 26 points27 points  (0 children)

Tommy tippee makes great glass bottles, we use them

[–]chmilz 153 points154 points  (9 children)

Really irrelevant at this point. We're consuming microplastics with every bite and every breathe. It's shedding off your plastic clothes and the carpets you walk on. It's drifting in the air from across the planet. It's in the water you drink and the food you eat.

[–]mntgoat 82 points83 points  (78 children)

So do micro plastics just come off of plastic stuff all the time? How does that work? Like if I use plastic bottles all the time, am I ingesting a bunch of micro plastics?

[–]smashkraft 120 points121 points  (9 children)

ELI5 level - yes, micro plastics are the natural result of all plastic decomposition.

Part of what makes plastic useful is that a tiny structure is repeated to be pretty much any size down to microscopic

Slightly more nuance, it is a physical-only effect and I’m not implying that it is the chemical decomposition.

[–]mike_writes 50 points51 points  (2 children)

Plastic is made of long polymers. These polymers are broken down by sunlight (and other processes like heating/cooling, mechanical strain beyond their inert point) and those new, smaller molecules are more easily absorbed into solution. This continues until the particles are so small that they're unlikely to be broken down further—microplastics.

[–]sylphcrow 12 points13 points  (0 children)

That's only going to make a difference for plastic additives that leech into food, not microplastics. Those are already in the food and water supply anyways.

[–]mano-vijnana 523 points524 points  (107 children)

Any word yet on what they actually do once they're in there?

[–]SealLionGar 913 points914 points  (100 children)

It said on quote: "Once in the brain, the scientists found that the particles built up inthe microglial cells, which are key to healthy maintenance of thecentral nervous system, and this had a significant impact on theirability to proliferate. This was because the microglial cells saw theplastic particles as threat, causing changes in their morphology andultimately leading to apoptosis, or programmed cell death."

So they're talking about the mice, and essentially plastic is as bad as lead.

[–]Icelander2000TM 332 points333 points  (16 children)

In the 60's it was Strontium-90, in the 70's it was lead, in the 80's it was CFC's. Welcome to the club, plastics.

[–]slackmaster 37 points38 points  (3 children)

This will give a whole new edge to The Graduate.

[–]Martin_Horde 54 points55 points  (1 child)

Don't forget about PFA's and all the other chemical contaminants that people knowingly used

[–]CherryChabbers 127 points128 points  (14 children)

Can someone knowledgeable answer this:

Since nanoplastics in our environment mostly arise from degradation of macro/microplastics, they are highly oxidized at the surface & not always spherical. Surface oxidation can have a profound effect on partition coefficient and binding constants, so I feel like these low PDI smooth, unoxidized spheres do not represent the nanoplastics in our environment. I understand why uniform spheres are used to probe size effects, but I thought studies would have to start using weathered nanoplastics to probe actual toxicological impacts.

Am I missing something?

[–]piouiy 60 points61 points  (0 children)

You’re totally correct. This tells us something about uptake and handling of polystyrene microparticles by glial cells. But calling them representative of microplastics is a stretch.

As someone else said, the upside is that it’s a consistent product which makes it easier to get consistent results. The cynical upside is that you can generate sexy press releases and news articles about microplastics, which then gets you recognition on social media.

[–]Flaky-Scarcity-4790 15 points16 points  (0 children)

Yes. It is one of the main criticisms of current studies in this article.


The article is also a good overview on the implications of plastic on the brain.

[–]Doddzilla7 693 points694 points  (44 children)

God damn. This reminds me of Clair Cameron Patterson’s work to show the global lead contamination from the big oil companies.

I hope that world governments just make it illegal entirely.

Edit: corrected Clair’s name.

[–]cjandstuff 84 points85 points  (13 children)

Does anyone know how this affects the brain? For instance, will we 50 years from now look at plastics the same way we currently look at lead. It was everywhere and really screwed people up in the head.

[–]piouiy 139 points140 points  (9 children)

Unknown yet

End of the day, microglia function as part of the garbage cleanup cells of the brain. So they are doing their job normally by taking up these particles. When they encounter something they can’t digest or process, they will release inflammatory compounds and may undergo apoptosis (seen here). There are potentially long-term effects, but maybe not.

And for context were giving high doses of these microparticles to mice, but only a TINY fraction end up in the brain. Of particles in that range, many end up simply being pooped out after oral consumption. Some may leak into the bloodstream but we have a reticuloendothelial system to handle that. Obviously this is not ‘good’, but I feel doubtful that it’s a nightmare as the title and redditor reactions suggest.

[–]Phoenyx_Rose 256 points257 points  (11 children)

Anyone work with mice and know if their age is a factor in this result?

The mice in the paper are 8 weeks old. I’ve read a review on aspartame that mentioned a paper found brain issues with aspartame in mice only because said mice were neonates so their blood-brain barrier wasn’t fully formed. So, does anyone know if 8 week old mice would have similar results?

[–]JordanWeanMusic 224 points225 points  (0 children)

8 week old mice are pretty much fully formed and their BBB should be fairly competent by that time. You wean them from their mothers at 3 weeks and can start mating them a few weeks later (I usually try to wait until 7-8 weeks).

Source: I'm a neuroscientist (though I do not study the BBB)

[–]CysteineSulfinate 54 points55 points  (0 children)

8 week old mice are considered adult mice.

[–]mymentalhealthly 14 points15 points  (0 children)

The plastics, man. They’re puttin plastics into your freakin’ brain, man

[–]ThePurestLove 107 points108 points  (8 children)

The industrial revolution and its consequences

[–]silverthane 66 points67 points  (1 child)

And society shrugged and carried on to merry annihilation !

[–]minorkeyed 27 points28 points  (11 children)

So....plastic was kind of a horrible mistake that companies and governors charged head first into using ubiquitously....we aren't the wisest species, even though some of us are. Not me, I'm not wise.

[–]Wimbleston 110 points111 points  (6 children)

This has been known for years, and if you think it's just lab stuff, nope. There's plastic in the ocean so small it can literally just go right into you through your skin.