Tuesday 9 November 2021

Are you and your cat companion damaging your health by breathing 7,000 tiny particles of plastic daily?

We don't know, is the answer to the question in terms of health. However, it seems pretty clear from recent research that both humans, cats and dogs are inhaling 7,000 tiny particles of plastic daily. It also seems clear a lot of this plastic comes from fleece clothing. Another source would be the plastic in an almost countless number of household products and fabrics containing plastic nowadays such as carpets.

Are you and your cat companion breathing 7,000 tiny particles of plastic a day damaging health?
Cat and plush toy. Photo in public domain.

Plush toys are nearly always made of fleece and plastics. And of course what's wrong about that is parents put fleece cuddly toys next to their kids in bed. Kids cuddle the toys. So they could be a problem because thousands of micro plastic particles are being inhaled by toddlers.

Carpets are also a potential problem. Years ago I wrote about chemicals and carpets which leach out into the atmosphere causing potential hidden problems. These chemicals might cause mysterious diseases; what veterinarians call 'idiopathic' diseases because they don't know the cause. A lot of illnesses are rather mysterious even to doctors and veterinarians. Perhaps it is the environment in which we place ourselves?

One expert in this area is Dr. Fay Couceiro. She is a reader in environmental pollution at the University of Portsmouth and an expert on micro-plastics. She knows what they are and where they are and what they might do to us. She conducted an experiment recently which showed just how much plastic people and pets are inhaling inside the home.

ASSOCIATED PAGE: Phthalates in vinyl flooring poisoning domestic cats?

As mentioned, it could be as many as 7,000 micro-plastic particles. The highest concentrations are normally in the bedroom where there's lots of soft toys, bedding and carpeting made of synthetic materials.

But the doctor doesn't know always uncertain about the damage they might cause. She has reduced the number of teddy bears on beds in her home and her children's bedrooms have a laminate floor that is plastic but less likely to produce micro-plastic particles than a synthetic or synthetic coated carpet.

She wants people to think about the potential for negative health consequences of plastic products in the home including clothing. I think perhaps the biggest steps one could make to get rid of my microplastics is to buy natural fibre clothing if that is practical nowadays.

One possibility, provided you live in an area where the air not polluted, is to open windows to allow plastic particles to be blown out of the home to the exterior. I'm not sure how practical this is.

You can buy second hand clothes made entirely of natural-based fibres. This may help. But even natural products can be dyed and treated which can undermine any health benefits in buying wool clothing, for example.

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Dr Fay Couciero believes that it is almost impossible to reduce exposure because people have "infected every corner of our planet with this toxic and indestructible material". She wants to turn off the plastic tap but she is hopeful that these micro-plastic particles don't cause health problems. 

In the meantime I think it is wise to make a presumption that they do cause health problems but what kind of problem? More research is needed but if these particles affect us they affect our cat in exactly the same way. We cannot leave them out of the equation or our thinking.

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