Our world is full of microplastics. California is leading the effort to change that

Humans have produced a lot of plastic. “You can stack plastic bottles from Earth to the Moon and back 14 times and that’s approximately the amount of plastic humans have created,” said Dr. Scott Coffin, a researcher at California’s State Water Resources Control. . Board. Over long periods of time, all of this plastic breaks down and eventually becomes microplastic. Watch the full Forecasting Our Future special here. Microplastics are small enough that we ingest them without even realizing it. . The individual plastic grains are smaller than the width of a human hair. Some can be as small as red blood cells. Coffin said these particles are the ones we need to be concerned about.” While most of them are removed from our body, some of them may remain and they would be distributed in our bloodstream and may accumulate in different organs where they go on to cause inflammation, oxidative stress and other interactions at the cellular level,” Coffin said. The specific long-term health effects of microplastics are still being researched, but California is not waiting for any conclusions to start making changes. Earlier this year, the state became the first in the United States to adopt a formal strategy to eliminate microplastics from the environment. California’s strategy is a step-by-step approach. two-pronged: focus on eliminating microplastic-producing materials while conducting more research into plastic alternatives that could be safer. Coffin says that as a scientist, the research part of the plan is huge. which types of plastics can be more or less toxic compared to each other. And go back to the producers of these materials and work with them to create safer alternatives,” Coffin said. The state plans include limiting single-use plastics in the food industry, banning the sale of certain plastic packaging, and banning the sale of cigarette filters and e-cigarettes. But much of our individual “plastic footprint” can be surprising. These are our clothes. Most of the fabrics we wear are made of synthetic materials that come off in the wash. Coffin says you can put a filter on washing machines and dryers to collect these shreds or just wear your clothes for as long as possible to limit how often you buy new clothes. example for the rest of the country and the world. “In California, we’ve done great things for the environment,” he says, “and that’s a scientist’s biggest dream is to be able to make their work directly impactful.” This story was produced as part of the special Forecasting Our Future airing on KCRA 3 and online Friday, April 22 at 7 p.m.

Humans have produced a lot of plastic.

“You can stack plastic bottles from Earth to the Moon and back 14 times and that’s approximately the amount of plastic that humans have created,” said State Water Resources Control Board researcher Dr. Scott Coffin. from California.

Over long periods of time, all of this plastic breaks down and eventually becomes microplastic.

  • Watch the full Forecasting Our Future special here.

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Microplastics are small enough that we ingest them without even realizing it. The individual plastic grains are smaller than the width of a human hair. Some can be as small as red blood cells. Coffin said these particles are the ones we need to worry about.

“While most of them are removed from our body, some of them may remain and they would be distributed in our bloodstream and may accumulate in different organs where they cause inflammation, oxidative stress and other interactions at the cellular level,” says Coffin.

The specific long-term health effects of microplastics are still being researched, but California isn’t waiting for any conclusions to start making changes. Earlier this year, the state became the first in the United States to adopt a formal strategy to eliminate microplastics from the environment.

California’s strategy is a two-pronged approach: focus on eliminating microplastic-producing materials while conducting more research into plastic alternatives that may be safer.

Coffin says that as a scientist, the research part of the plan is huge.

“It allows us to understand which types of plastics may be more or less toxic to each other. And go back to the producers of those materials and work with them to create safer alternatives,” Coffin said.

The state plans include limiting single-use plastics in the food industry, banning the sale of certain plastic packaging, and banning the sale of cigarette filters and e-cigarettes.

But much of our individual “plastic footprint” can be surprising.

These are our clothes.

Most of the fabrics we wear are made of synthetic materials that come off in the wash. Coffin says you can put a filter on washing machines and dryers to collect these shreds or just wear your clothes for as long as possible to limit how often you buy new clothes.

Coffin said he hopes California’s microplastics strategy will help set an example for the rest of the country and the world.

“In California, we’ve done great things for the environment,” he says, “and that’s a scientist’s biggest dream is to be able to make their work directly impactful.”


This story was produced as part of the special Forecasting Our Future airing on KCRA 3 and online Friday, April 22 at 7 p.m. patterns.

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