Sorry, But There Is Probably Plastic in Your Brain
At this point, any villain in any story could be a metaphor for plastic, perhaps the worst thing to ever happen to us. Only invented in 1862, the synthetic substance has gone full Godzilla on the environment — 8 million metric tons of plastic waste are dumped into the oceans every year— in less than two centuries. And when it comes to our health, microplastics have Trojan-horsed their way into our bodies through food and water, ultimately landing in our gut bacteria and bloodstream.
And now, perhaps the most horrifying development yet — scientists are warning that plastic can contaminate our brains, too. A new study used computer models to demonstrate how polystyrene, a commonly used plastic for food packaging, can make its way upstairs. “We discovered that a certain surface structure (biomolecular corona) was crucial in enabling plastic particles to pass into the brain,” Oldamur Hollóczki, co-author of the study, explained in a press release.
More alarmingly, the tiny plastic particles were able to jump the “blood-brain barrier” within two hours of ingesting them. That means within the time it takes to watch a movie, microplastics can go straight to your head. “In the brain, plastic particles could increase the risk of inflammation, neurological disorders or even neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s,” study co-author Lukas Kenner added.
As if devolving into a human/Dasani-bottle hybrid wasn’t nightmarish enough, there are many other potential health problems associated with microplastics in the body — e.g., autoimmune diseases, reproductive issues and certain types of cancer. That said, there isn’t a ton we can do about it at the moment, as plastics have made their way into pretty much everything — including infiltrating seemingly healthy fruits and vegetables through their roots.
In other words, our Saran wrap overlords have just about choked us into submission.