The team at Pure Earth Collection explain how micro-plastic pollution in our homes may be affecting our children.
Recently, more research has been done into micro-plastic pollution in our homes and the implications on our health. Sadly, the studies have found that children seem to be disproportionally exposed to these pollutants. Last month the New York School of Medicine revealed that babies ingest ten to 20 times more micro-plastics than adults. This month, another study into micro-plastic pollution was carried out which showed that airborne micro-plastics in an 8-year-old girl’s bedroom were 100 times higher than originally suspected, with 28 micro-plastic particles breathed in every minute.
Micro-plastics in the human body are a known health concern, but, due to lack of current research into the subject, the long-term implications are not fully understood. What we do know is that studies on animals and sea life that have ingested micro-plastics have experienced cell shutdown, reproductive issues, increased adult mortality, inflammation and metabolic issues. This is likely caused by the toxicity of the micro-plastics as they breakdown inside the body.
Due to the mass consumerism that has engulfed the world over recent decades, cheap, synthetic fabrics have made their way into every part of our lives, ecosystems and bodies. In 1975, synthetic fabrics accounted for around 40% of global textile production. Today, that figure is over 74%.
What is causing micro-plastic pollution in our homes?
Pure Earth Collection have been banging the drum for years now about the importance of choosing natural fabrics for your little ones wherever possible. Particularly when it comes to baby comforters and soft toys, which will be sucked on regularly by your baby and will shed tiny plastic particles into the air. Choosing organic cotton soft toys is such a huge step to reducing the plastic consumption for babies.
The main plastic type found to be ingested in recent studies was PET plastics, which are used in polyester textiles, water bottles and baby bottles. It’s thought that the polyester pollution was so high in the 8-year-old girl’s bedroom because her carpet, teddies and bed cushions were all made from fluffy synthetic fabrics, which were releasing thousands of micro-plastic particles into the air.
Children breathe in more air relative to their body weight than adults. They are also more exposed to household dust, where micro-plastics and other pollutants collect, as they are closer to the ground, often playing on the floor and regularly licking fingers or dropping and then eating snacks.
What if some synthetic items can’t be switched?
Strive for change over perfection. Any changes you can make will have a positive impact on your home environment. Focus on the things that you can swap out first, and don’t worry about things that are harder to switch. Use this new awareness to help inform your choices about anything you buy for the house or your kids in the future.
If all of your child’s teddies are polyester perhaps ask them to choose a favourite and only allow them to sleep with that one in their room. When they’re playing with their other teddies during the day consider opening windows to ventilate the air and clear out the micro-plastic build up. Buy some new cotton teddies for Christmas and slowly try to integrate more natural options into your child’s life.
If you have polyester carpets and are not looking to replace them any time soon then don’t panic. Putting down a rug on areas where your children spend most of their time, and also in corridors or high traffic zones, will reduce the amount of micro-plastics released. Opening windows more often and vacuuming and dusting regularly will also help.
Pure Earth Collection’s Plastic Free Babies campaign
Pure Earth Collection has set up a #PlasticFreeBabies campaign to help spread awareness around the risks of micro-plastics to human health, in particular children. You can check out more about their campaign, help spread awareness and find more tips on reducing your child’s exposure here. They’ve also created a range of multi-award winning plastic-free products for babies, children and adults to help give consumers a wider choice of natural options.