Plastic contamination of food


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Plastic contamination of food

Editat: des. 4, 2023, 3:44 pm

Preliminary reports from one of the Science journals indicate that plastic contamination of human foods may be linked to some increased rates of some human diseases in recent decades. The journal link is provided in the attached news report:

At this time, the trial subjects for these studies are lab mice. Animal trials that help to clarify human disease outbreaks would ideally include pigs, which are the animals with digestive systems most similar to humans. But studies involving pigs or other large animals are expensive to conduct.

If these findings hold up over time, ways to avoid plastic contamination in food include storing foods in glass containers; the FIDO brand from Italy manufactures many different sizes of glass storage containers. Independent natural food stores like Mariposa in Willits, California sell different sizes of the FIDO brand; the Berkeley Bowl supermarket in Berkeley, California is another independent grocer.

Editat: gen. 11, 1:54 pm

Once created, these thread titles in LT groups apparently cannot be changed, perhaps because they are used as database pointers to the comments in each thread. Anyway, if I could change this thread, it would be to re-title it to say "Plastic Contamination In Food And Water." There are a few new magazine and professional journal articles on this subject:

The second above article contains a link to the new PNAS article on the new science that now identifies the presence of previously unknown plastic nano-particles in bottled water.

LT Science Group members, I need your comments on this thread, because suggestions are needed on how individuals can cope with this new class of information.

Here's a paragraph on what my family and I have been doing about plastic in drinking water to date, because I always knew this day would come. For drinking water to carry with us in the car, we use our recycled glass Evian bottles which have aluminum caps. I fill those bottles with Crystal Geyser bottled water, from California spring water. That spring water only comes in plastic gallon-sized bottles, at least so far. We also buy Mountain Valley Spring Water in glass bottles, which is sealed with aluminum caps. (Mountain Valley water is bottled in Arkansas, at the deepest natural spring in North America.) In California, Mountain Valley water is also available for home delivery, in glass bottles so large and heavy that I can barely lift one. Note: Due to the pressures of competition, all of today's bottled water vendors have a website page which includes their state-certified analytical lab reports on the contents of their commercial water products.

The reason I avoid directly drinking any tap water is from the equation "common exponential decay" from trigonometry. Basically, what that equation tells us is that no water filter will ever be able to remove 100% of any contaminants from drinking water. In the 21st century, those contaminants in any surface waters can include traces of prescription pharmaceuticals, traces of nanotechnology, traces of plastics/micro-plastics/nano-plastics, and traces of the human use of radioactive substances. The state of California has just informed the public statewide that over the next 20 years, they will introduce a drinking water recycling program statewide, commonly referred to as "toilet to tap" water recycling, so those of us in California can add that program to our list of expected tap water contaminants. When I refer above to "surface waters" I am also including groundwater aquifers, which have or can have many points of connection with more literally "surface" waters.

Home water treatment options: 1. Often recommended for home treatment of drinking water is a powder known as French green clay (which may also be labeled as montmorillonite). Take a teaspoon of the powder, add it to a filled pitcher of drinking water, mix it in, and let it settle to the floor of that container, perhaps for one hour. Then pour off the water portion of that pitcher into your drinking water dispenser. French green clay is often found for sale in the "bulk herbal" section of US independent natural food stores. 2. When I buy the non-carbonated form of Mountain Valley Spring Water, I notice it always has a "flat" taste; when we use that to fill our drinking water dispenser, I mix in 1/8 teaspoon of New Zealand sea salt, which removes the "flat" taste without adding any noticeably salty flavor.

Note: Why New Zealand sea salt? In the USA, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute used to have a map of what they call Our Radioactive Ocean. What they don't say is that while it is true that Earth's oceans have always had a truly minute level of natural radioactivity which *was* always the same value regardless of where the ocean waters were sampled around the world, today's ocean waters now have different radiation levels in certain areas, courtesy of nuclear power plants and other human uses of radioactive isotopes. In the 21st century, New Zealand ocean waters are currently the least contaminated with artificial radioactivity, so that's the type of sea salt I use at home.

Editat: gen. 9, 7:52 pm

I admit to drinking tap water and hoping it is OK. The article about nano-plastics etc. in PNAS is disturbing!
With Japan releasing radioactive water into the ocean, I don't know how it will affect the surrounding regions including New Zealand. I suppose one of the things to find out is the lifetime of the radioactive material. It could be rather short (halftime 1-2 years) or very long (100 years). I don't remember exactly what they are releasing. Uranium? Plutonium?

Otherwise, I guess I trust in luck, good filters etc. But I agree that it is a problem.

gen. 10, 6:13 am

>3 krazy4katz: The take-away from yesterday's BBC's 'Whose agenda is it anyway?' (available on BBC Sounds at ; geographic limits may apply) was that Fukushima was a successful misinformation story from China.

The Fukushima release was of tritiated water ('super-heavy water'), where one of the hydrogen atoms is a tritium isotope. Tritium is a radioactive by-product of nuclear fission, and has a half-life of 12.3 years; many (most? all?) nuclear power stations release tritium gas and/or tritiated water. All water naturally includes some heavy (one deuterium isotype) and super-heavy water; and the Fukushima release brought the bay's radioactivity up to one-seventh of the international standard for safe for human consumption. See the tritium's Wikipedia page,, for a table of some of the larger annual discharges of tritium from nuclear facilities.

And as a cherry on top, while the Chinese media was agitating for a boycott of Japanese sea food, Chinese ships were fishing those same Fukushima waters.

gen. 10, 8:40 am

>4 Cynfelyn: Thank you! I was too lazy to track that down. Very interesting!

gen. 10, 2:11 pm

The plastic bottled water concern is gaining some traction, now it's in Canada's news:

Added to the concern about what they do to the environment, and maybe people will finally stop buying them (as I strategically stand in front of the case of bottled water in my pantry.)

Editat: gen. 11, 2:53 pm

Thanks, all, for these discussion comments. The new science on nano-plastics will take time for us to fully understand and act on.

Regarding French green clay that I discussed above, here is reference information on that:

When the Fukushima water release started to happen last year, I asked the radiochemist Ken Buesseler at Woods Hole (their acronym is WHOI; they are in coastal Massachusetts, USA) to try for more grant money to repeat his sailing trip offshore in that region near the Japanese coast to capture more water samples at different depths, in order to repeat his earlier 2012 voyage, but with new data. The early 20th century (Sverdrup + colleagues) international water sampling voyage also captured water samples at different depths to measure radioisotopes and many other elements/compounds. Here is their 1942 book on their findings:

That book is an academic edition, weighing in at over 1,000 pages.

Editat: feb. 20, 11:15 am

Cecrow, I hear you ... at this point, all we can do is to re-assess our personal habits, kitchen set-ups, etc. Apparently, some of the nano-contaminants in tap water and various bottled waters are coming from the water filters themselves. If so, those filters can be re-engineered.

There's an update today on this PNAS study of bottled water: The three waters tested are all common brands of bottled water, and were all bought at a Wal-Mart in the USA. As of today, a quick check online shows the following popular name brand bottled waters sold at Wal-Mart: Aquafina, Kirkland, Life Wtr, Nestle Pure Life, Niagra, Sam's Choice, and Smartwater.

Krazy4katz, the dynamics of radioisotope releases into the environment are complex. The lifetime of a particular radioisotope is important, as we see in the periodic international press revisiting of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which spread cesium-137 (approx. 300 year lifetime) across most of mainland Europe and Turkiye. (There's now an umlaut mark on the u in the name of the country formerly known as Turkey, but I don't have that punctuation mark on my MacBook Air keyboard.) However, short-lived radioisotopes like tritium can be very energetic, so they present a non-trivial risk of internal contamination. Tritium poses an enormous challenge in water decontamination ... as we all know, the formula for water is H2O, where there are 2 oxygen atoms for every hydrogen atom. In tritiated water, the single hydrogen atom has been replaced by the radioactive isotope of hydrogen. So it's difficult to remove tritium from water, because the tritium *is* the water.

Editat: gen. 11, 2:56 pm

Cynfelyn, when I was preparing my magazine article for publication on the Fukushima nuclear disaster, I had to give up on using magazine/journal articles as information sources, because those publishers do not require authors to disclose any financial connections with the global nuclear industry, grants from environmental groups, etc. Book publishers do require such disclosure, however, so you can rely on them to share that information.

We must also remain aware that international radiation standards are irrelevant to the problem of internal human contamination by ingested foods or waters which accidentally incorporate ionizing radiation; those standards only cover external radiation exposure.

The gold standard in radiation measurement is Becquerels, since all other types of radiation "measurements" rely on calculations (I'm looking at you, Sieverts).

Editat: gen. 20, 12:37 pm

Everyone, it's hard to find internet resources on radioactive isotopes that are *not* paywalled, but one of the leading online scientific databases contains mostly free information. Here is a sample entry from Wolfram Alpha on radioactive cesium-137:

Can any of you folks recommend additional free, or mostly free, scientific databases which cover radioactivity?

Cynfelyn, I will be listing for the LT science group some books on tritium that I can recommend as presenting information that takes into account the biological effects of ingested tritium. Some of those books are for the general public, and some are academic. For now, be aware that many people writing about tritium have never taken even a single biology class.

gen. 29, 8:30 pm

Do any of you folks subscribe to New Scientist magazine? I could only find a brief description of their new article documenting the sharp increase in microplastic contamination in both organic and inorganic fertilizers over the last 50 years. Here it is:

Is that why macrobiotic gardens use only composted soil amendments which they made themselves? Please give me some feedback on these points. Thanks.

gen. 30, 3:45 am

>11 MaureenRoy: You asked just in time, as our New Scientist subscription is running down, and we may have already received our last copy. That said, it is a negative answer.

Your article, "Fertilisers are a major source of microplastic pollution in soil" (online, dated 16 Jan. 2024) isn't in the magazines for 13 January or 20 January. I've no idea whether magazine articles are drip-fed onto the website over the following weeks, or whether online subscribers get first dibs on articles, which are only later published in 'legacy media' for fossils like me. I'll check to see if we still have the earlier issues, but probably not.

Good luck with the hunt.

Editat: feb. 20, 11:42 am

Here are some internet links from a growing variety of websites on microplastic contamination of soil:

Note: Some of these links are data- or graphics-intensive, so they may take a minute for your computer to load ... or you may have to try more than once to get the link to fully download. I got them all to download successfully via my Mac Book Air notebook computer.

About 20 years ago, our family saw ads in a natural living magazine for "grow boxes" for backyard or apartment balcony locations for growing one's own flowers, fruits and vegetables. The ads explained that those grow boxes were manufactured from recycled bottles of dishwashing liquid. Even at the time, I wasn't sure if that was a good idea, but my family wanted to try it and we got some. Tomatoes and mustard greens did grow well in that setup, but I had to cover the water intakes with netting so that mosquitos did not develop a wonderful new game of laying their eggs in the watering chambers of those grow boxes. Nowadays I limit use of those grow boxes to bamboo sound walls in our front yard. Bamboo does a fantastic job of silencing road noise, but when planted in the ground directly, it goes wild everywhere and becomes a nuisance.

Editat: març 11, 2:07 pm

To all, there is new information reported today in the US newspaper The Washington Post titled "A simple way to get microplastics out of your water." It claims that new research found that boiling drinking water can remove 90% of microplastics. I would add the link here, but it is paywalled. I was able to read that article in full via the news app on my Apple iPhone. Depending on what kind of technology you have, however, you may or may not be able to read that article for free on your computer.

The gist of that article is that, especially for hard water that is available in much tap water, at high enough temperatures, calcium carbonate in tap water will solidify, effectively encapsulating or encrusting plastic microparticles, thus making them easy to remove through a simple filter, such as a coffee filter. Such boiling and filtration of water can help to remove up to 90% of the tiny plastic particles.

"If you want to try it, the researchers cautioned you should wait 5 to 10 minutes to let the solids settle after boiling --- and let the water cool. Then you can filter out the solids."

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